I recently spent a lovely weekend in La Rochelle in France with some friends, one Italian and one Frenchman. A Saturday morning spent in the bustling fish market ended in a perfect afternoon feasting on fresh shell-fish (click here to see photos and read more about the market).
The Italian cooked this spaghetti for our Sunday lunch, just how he makes it with his family at home. It’s my idea of perfect food, and like most seafood, it’s so simple to make and only requires fresh yet minimal ingredients to produce something delicious.
Spaghetti Vongole – Spaghetti with Clams
1 kg clams
good quality olive oil
4 garlic cloves
2 small chillies
a large handful of parsley
a large handful of spaghetti
a couple of glasses white wine
2 large tomatoes
- Wash your clams and check they’re all shut. Discard any open ones that still don’t close when gently tapped on the table. Get a pan of salted water on the boil.
- Put a large pan on a medium heat, add some finely sliced garlic, chopped red chilli, finely chopped parsley stalks, and cook gently.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water. Add the clams to the saucepan.
- Turn up the heat slightly, and add a generous slosh of white wine, about two big glasses. Put a lid on the pan. Occasionally give it a shake to get the wine into the opening clams.
- Check the pasta- you want it al dente- then drain.
- Pour the pasta into the pan of clams, stir to coat everything in the garlicky-winey sauce. Stir in the roughly chopped parsley and chopped tomatoes.
- Serve with a large squeeze of lemon, another drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.
I’m not a massive fan of fresh oysters, yet oysters gratinee , like these made to my lovely Frenchman’s recipe, taste delicious.
- Finely chop some red pepper into the oysters.
- Add a blob of something such as olive tapenade, rouille or salsa.
- Sprinkle over some grated cheese and grill for about 10 minutes.
Simple Grilled Seafood
In my humble opinion beautiful fresh seafood shouldn’t be messed with too much. For the prawns, squid and scallops, we simply marinated them with some olive oil, finely chopped garlic and parsley before chargrilling them on the barbeque.
None of it takes long to cook at all:
- The squid about 40 seconds (click here for how to prepare fresh squid).
- The prawns roughly 3-5 minutes until hot all the way through.
- The scallops– which we took out their shells and threaded onto skewers-barely a minute each side.
Finish off with a big squeeze of fresh lemon and enjoy eating messily with your fingers.
Once gutted, fill the carcass with finely sliced garlic, chopped flat-leaf parsley, and a thick spoonful of Dijon mustard. Drizzle the skin with olive oil and rub it all over. Season.
Place on a hot barbeque and cook for roughly 10 minutes each side. The skin will become chargrilled and crispy, and the flesh juicy.