Clams Stew with Anchellini Pasta and Sausage

By Nicholo Jallores, from his blog Rest for The Wicked

 

There is something about shellfish that is simultaneously sophisticated and primal. They look elegant on the plate, and feel like a nuclear explosion of deliciousness in the mouth. Nothing tastes of the ocean as much as shellfish – not even fish. Heck, maybe not even the actual ocean. And shellfish packs so much flavor per square millimeter, cooking with them feels a bit like cheating. Your soup is a little bland? Throw in some clams. Your pasta needs a bit of depth and interest. Bung in some mussels. They’re like the bacon of the marine world. They just make everything taste better.

This dish is one of those rare things that offer both comfort and complexity. It’s the kind of food that is best served to the hung over, because the carbs in the pasta are ultra relaxing, but the flavor profile is so vibrant, it could jolt anyone back to life. There are two flavor powerhouses here: the clams and the sausage. I used a sausage called hamonado, which is sweet (think candied pork) and Filipino in origin. I could’ve used chorizo just as well, but I wanted to support the ocean-y sweetness of the clams with a sweetness that’s more earthbound. Plus it’s cheaper and more readily available.

– Nicholo

 

YOU’LL NEED:

2 tbsps. Olive Oil (not extra virgin. If you don’t have olive oil, don’t bother with a quick trip to grocery. Just use any flavorless oil)

2 cups of diced sausage (Preferably one that will hold its shape when cut, like chorizo, or Filipino Hamonado. But if you don’t have that, it’s still good to have crumbly bits of sausage.)

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced

1/2 tsp. ginger, grated or minced

1 1/2 tbsp. Tomato Paste

1 tsp. sriracha sauce (or if you don’t have it, you can use chili pepper flakes. Or even a fresh red chili. You just need a bit of firepower.)

Cherry Tomatoes (I left them whole, because I like how they burst in your mouth when you eat them. You can cut them in half if you’re in a knife-y mood)

1 cup of dry white wine (don’t use anything other than dry wine here. There’s enough sweetness from the sausage already.)

A kilo of clams

1 1/2 cups of anchellini pasta {or any other small pasta like orzo, or even macaroni)

Flat-leaf parsley (Not the curly type, which is basically useless.)

Shaved parmesan for topping (Not to be a purist, but only parmesan will work here. If you don’t have that, don’t bother with adding cheese. It’ll still taste great}.

 

How to Cook:

1.) Cook the anchellini pasta separately, in lots of boiling water and a handful of salt. Now this is looks like an unnecessary step, as you can most definitely just bung in the pasta along with the stew and cook both together in one pot – but then you’d have to add extra water. Plus, the anchellini will release a lot of its starch, which could make your stew simultaneously soupy and gummy, instead of stew-y. It’s up to you. This is your meal. Have it your way.

2.) In a separate pot, sauté the sausage in a bit of olive oil, using medium heat. Once you’ve smelt their sweet and salty goodness, add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté until the onions have softened.

3.) Add the tomato paste and the sriracha sauce. This is an important step, as the flavor of tomato paste improves when it is sauteed in a bit of fat. Do this for about a minute, then add a cup of white wine. Scrape of the awesome brown bits in the bottom of the pan, and reduce the liquid to about half. (If you’re not using wine, you could do the same technique with a bit of the water that the anchellini have cooked in.)

4.) Throw in the clams, add 2 cups of water, season with a bit of fish sauce, and close the lid. Clams will take about 3 to 5 minutes to cook and unfurl. As they cook, they will release their salty, ocean-y juices into the stew. MIND BLOWING!

5.) When the clams have opened up, bung in the cooked anchellini pasta and the chopped parsley. Simmer for a a minute or two just to allow the pasta to absorb some of the stew liquid.

6.) Serve on a nice, big bowl and top with shaved parmesan and a scattering of chopped parsley.                             

 

Notes on Clam Preparation

  • Clams need to be soaked overnight prior to cooking. Not sure if you can do it for a shorter amount of time, but overnight is the safest bet. Clams are amazing little packets of super flavor, but if you don’t pre-soak them, your dish will end up sandy. It’ll be like microdermabrasion for your gullet.
  • You’ll need to pick through the clams and take out the dead ones. 2 things to remember: before cooking, take out the ones that stay open. After cooking, take out the clams that stay closed.

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