Auntie May’s Pasta with Vongole Veraci
The first time I bought the little clams known in Italian as vongole veraci I didn’t have much idea what to do with them. I didn’t even reailize they were still alive! They came in a net, exactly like satsumas or oranges in the supermarket and I put them in the fridge to keep until dinner time. It was only when I brought them out and set them on my work counter that I noticed they were squeaking and moving slightly.
There are many things I love about living in Southern Germany but the fish shops in most towns are not one of them. Only the smoked fish is reliably good, fresh fish is usually past its best and as every good cook knows there is no sense in even trying to make a good dish out of anything less than absolutely fresh fish. Luckily for me, an Italian friend discovered a company, run by Italians, that imports lovely fresh fish, mainly to sell to gourmet restaurants in Southern Germany, North Switzerland and Alsace but they also sell to private people in the shop attached to their warehouse. Recently, they even started offering other products, such as milk lamb from the Pyrenees in season, or beef from Argentina. The shop is called Südfisch and is located in Muggensturm just off the A5 highway between Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden. (www.suedfisch.net)
So ... the person in front of me asked for vongole veraci, I had a vague memory of enjoying spaghetti with vongole veraci in Naples and decided to take some as well. Since they are alive, they will keep in the fridge overnight and can still be enjoyed next day,
The recipe is pretty simple. A few minutes before cooking them, run the vongole under fresh water for a minute, then place in a bowl of water with a small handful of salt to get rid of any sand trapped inside the shells. Throw away any shells that are already open, the clams inside will be dead. For a kilo of clams (enough for 4 - 6 as a starter or two greedy people as a main course) heat a couple of spoons of olive oil in a large pan, add several cloves of finely chopped garlic, fry for a couple of minutes and add a chopped red chili then the clams. After about half a minute, add a wine glass of white wine and cover the pan with a lid to steam the clams. In a few minutes the shells will open and the vogole veraci are ready to serve. What could be easier? Meanwhile, cook the pasta - long pasta is best, linguine or spaghetti. When the pasta is cooked al dente add the clams, plenty of finely chopped parsley and a couple of spoons of olive oil. Enjoy.