4 garlic cloves
2 red chilies, seeded (optional)
3 1/2 pounds 'vongole' (fresh, live baby clams)
splash of white wine
large of handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
flaky slat and freshly ground pepper
Heat some olive oil (1/4 inch deep) in a large frying pan that has a lid.
Add the sliced garlic and chili, if using it.
When the pan is nice and hot, add the clams and cover with the lid.
Cook for 5-7 minutes, shaking frequently to help the clams open up.
Discard any claims that are still closed and splash the others with 1/4 glass of white wine.
When the wine is evaporated, add half the chopped parsley and plenty of ground black pepper. As clams are salty by nature, taste the sauce before seasoning further.
The spaghetti cooking time should be timed to coincide with the sauce being ready. Drain the spaghetti and toss in the pan with the clams.
For a really creamy sauce, add a few spoonfuls of the starchy pasta water to the pan and toss the spaghetti in the sauce with the rest of the parsley. Some indulgent ' cheats' add a tiny bit of butter to achieve this effect. That's OK.
VARIATIONS In truth, like calves' liver, this is a dish I save to eat in restaurants and one that I cook only when by the sea. Fresh clams can be replaced with two large jars/cans of clams in brine. Drain the clams from the brine and follow the recipe but cook for only 2-3 minutes before splashing with wine. Adding 7 ounces chopped cherry tomatoes after the wine evaporates gives juice and extra flavor when using canned clams.
ADD TO THE BASE RECIPE
1/2 chili flakes or 1-2 fresh chilies, seeded and finely chopped, with the garlic; or 10 ounces chopped fresh tomato after the wine has evaporated.