SPAGHETTI ALLA VONGOLE Max cost £6, $10 Takes about 50 minutes

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce Serves 4-5 as a main course

A classic dish and for me one which evokes the taste and scent of summer by the sea (very useful during a winter in London). It is simple to make, but make sure that the clams are grit free or you will be eating the beach as well.
This sauce is at its' best when freshly prepared and does not keep well.


Place the clams in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak for ten minutes. Discard the water - leaving the clams - and refill the bowl with fresh water. Scrub each clam thoroughly using a small stiff brush (a nail brush is ideal) then place back in the bowl of water. When all of the clams have been cleaned, drain and refresh the water and repeat the scrubbing process. If any of the clams are open, tap the shell with the handle of a knife. If they remain open throw them away.

Place the cleaned clams in a wide bottomed pan, cover and place on a high heat. After one to two minutes check the clams frequently and remove those that are open.

When all the clams have opened up remove the pan from the heat. Detach the meat from the shells (keep some shells for decoration) and dip in the pan juices to remove any sand. Set them aside in a dish (if using large clams cut them into three pieces).

Place a couple of sheets of kitchen paper into a colander or sieve and carefully strain the clam juice into a bowl/jug. When cool pour a little of the strained juice over the clam meat.

Heat half of the oil in heavy pan and gently fry the garlic until it is a pale golden colour. Stir in the wine and half of the parsley, then add the chilli, the anchovy (if using), the tomatoes with their juice and the strained clam juice. Stir thoroughly, then reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes. The sauce will separate, but this is correct. Add the clams and mix well with the sauce. Remove from the heat and season to taste.

When the sauce is half way through simmering, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to a heated serving dish and toss with the rest of the oil. Add the sauce and the rest of the parsley and mix thoroughly. Garnish with reserved clam shells and serve.

I would not serve cheese with this dish.