This month I’m featuring my linguine alla vongole (clams with linguine) as February’s Recipe of the Month. The secret to this great pasta is fresh clams. If you’re in a time crunch, you can use canned clams (test out different brands to find the best taste), but I recommend going to your grocer or your downtown fresh fish/seafood market. You can’t beat the taste.
Linguine alla vongoleItaly is surrounded by coastline. So it’s no surprise Italians often use clams as an ingredient in mixed sea dishes or with pasta. These dishes can range from hearty and earthy to light and elegant. Choosing live clams make a dish taste better, but you also have to be very careful in how you procure your clams.
Clams? are filter feeders. You want to make sure they haven’t come from polluted or bacteria-laden water. Trust your gut when buying from a street vendor or fish market, as the sellers may have picked the clams from congested, dirty? waters.
In stores, clams are often sold in mesh bags. Don’t just take a bag and buy! Pick up a bag and give it a shake. Hopefully, the majority of the clams’ slightly agape shells will shut? tightly. If most of the clams remain open, that is a sign that the clam is either dead or dying and very dangerous to ingest. Also, take a nice big sniff. All seafood will have a slight fishy odor, but if it seems off, sharp, or excessively sweet, you should pass on by.
Once you get them home, you want to keep your clams alive until you prepare them. If you buy freshly caught clams, you can put them in your refrigerator on a damp towel. The clams should keep for a few days, though that is not license to buy ahead. Clams, and any shellfish, is best when bought and prepared the same day.
Be sure to stay on top of all things Italian by checking back here on Fridays, and signing up for my newsletter! Next week I’ll be sharing stories and photos of Carnevale which just started yesterday and will continue through the 15th!