AKA the blog post where I cooked clams without giving ourselves food poisoning. Yeah, the day after I bought the clams, I saw that they were all wide open. I was worried that they had all died overnight in our fridge and that I’d wouldn’t be able to cook them for Sunday dinner.
On Saturdays, I try to spend time with my friends A+L, and their twin baby girls; I’m godmother to the younger one. This last Saturday, my co-godparent, K, was over from Amsterdam. It’s his first time meeting the girls, although we’ve been posting baby photos on the Whatsapp group. It’s also the first time he and I met, despite having chatted (asynchronously) on Facebook, Twitter and Slack. This whole ambient intimacy thing is a funny, wondrous thing.
We typically don’t venture far from where A+L live. For most of the afternoon, we hung out at a pizzeria with outdoor seating in one of Kreuzberg’s tree-lined streets. The girls were pretty chill, the adults were getting on. Then we walked over to Marheineke Markthalle for ice cream.
I had a wander inside the market hall with the handsome-and-talented husband in tow. He knows better than to let me loose in a market hall by myself. Who knows what he’d have to lug home after I’m done. I managed to control myself and made a single stop at the fishmonger, all the while longingly looking at all the other stands.
Once we got home, our groceries went straight into the fridge, including the salmon and clams. The clams were wrapped in paper, and left slightly open at the top. I thought they’d just sleep overnight and I’d cook them the next day. So imagine my shock when I checked on the clams and they were all gaping open!
A fast Internet search informed me to knock the clams together: if they were alive, they’d snap shut. I tapped every single one gently against the kitchen counter and none responded. I was despondent and hyperventilating a bit, watching my Sunday afternoon writing and food photography plans go up in flames, and at the fact that I’d have to chuck out the half kilo of beautiful clams.
Unwilling to give up, and wondering whether our fridge’s frigid temperatures made them unusually lethargic, I placed them in a bowl, and filled up the bowl with very slightly salted cold water. Seconds after they were submerged in water, little air bubbles surfaced and bar one or two, all the beautiful little clams snapped shut. Yay!
I kept them in water for perhaps 10 minutes, then drained them and placed them on the counter. They slowly reopened themselves and some even stuck out their tongues! Coolio, I think we’re good to go!
Linguine with clams
What you need for 2 (HANGRY) people
- a teaspoon of kosher salt/coarse sea salt
- 300g linguine
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 500g fresh clams, scrubbed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 2 handfuls of freshly chopped parsley, divide in half
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta
Bring a pot of water to boil. Then add the salt and stir. Add the linguine and cook just before al dente, e.g my linguine package instructions said 9-10 mins until al dente, so I cooked it for 7 minutes. Before draining the pasta, save 1 cup of pasta water.
Prep and cook the clams
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes in another deep pot. I use my Le Creuset Dutch oven for this. Once the garlic has softened, about 2-3 minutes over low-medium heat, add the scrubbed clams, the white wine and half of the chopped parsley. Turn up the heat to medium-high, cover and steam for 2 minutes. Open and check that the clams have opened.
Add the drained pasta and the 1 cup of pasta water. Turn down the fire to low and cover for another 2 minutes. Then remove from fire and divide between 2 pasta plates. Sprinkle the rest of the parsley on top, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Don’t eat the clams that have remained shut. Enjoy everything else!