Vongole Pasta – Spaghetti alle Vongole!
This is our #1 favorite pasta to order during dates in Seoul.
We prefer oil-based pastas as they don’t leave you feeling bloated and heavy. You know – you gotta reserve some parking in your stomach for dessert!
We were in Italy a few years ago and we were very impressed with the simplicity of authentic Italian pasta dishes. (Much different to the pasta you see in the US or Korea).
The pasta there typically had only a few ingredients. Not overstuffed with toppings.
Plus the pasta noodles were very flavorful. Salty, creamy and impactful. Made me realize that pasta is really about the pasta noodles itself… not the toppings!
Now, a key step in getting flavor onto the pasta noodles is a process called emulsion.
Emulsion refers when two liquids that normally don’t mix become one – like fat and water.
In pasta – the emulsion is between olive oil (or butter) and pasta water.
To achieve emulsion, we simply need power! Forcefully blend, shake, or stir until the two liquids combine! The more vigorously and longer you stir, the thicker – and creamier – the sauce becomes.
This creamy texture is what makes a great-tasting Vongole!
COOKING NOTES FOR VONGOLE PASTA
When cooking the pasta noodles, you don’t need to boil it in a large pot. Place in a medium-sized pot and pour just enough water to cover it. This will make the cooking water extra starchy – which makes it easier to combine with the oils in the pan later.
Make sure to season the water with generous amounts of salt – so that our pasta doesn’t taste bland. Don’t be shy!
To cook your pasta al-dente, check the back of the packaging of the pasta for the recommended time. Then reduce that time by about 2 minutes. (We will finish cooking the pasta in the frying pan.)
Make sure to purge the clams before cooking – best way to ruin the dish by biting into sand!
Feel free to use any white cooking wine – no need to use anything expensive as the alcohol will evaporate anyway.
After the clams open, start with about 3 soup ladles of pasta water. Then add more if your sauce dries out too quickly while stirring.
Important: After adding-in the 3 scoops of pasta water, remember to also pour in a few drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil. This is the additional fat needed for emulsion!
Alrighty enjoy neighbors! Don’t forget your wine!
If you make it at home, tag us in IG. We’d love to see!
To Get Pasta Started
- 2 Servings of Spaghetti Noodles
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon (!) Dried Red Chili Pepper
- 300-500 grams Fresh Clams (2 big handfuls)
- 1/3 cup White Wine (We used Chardonnay)
- 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
When Stirring To Make Emulsion
- 3 Soup Ladles of Pasta Water (Use more if needed)
- Few drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Few pinches of Salt (Optional, if needed)
- Fill a pot with water. Don't need to add too much water - just enough to submerge the noodles. Then season the water with a generous amount of salt. Place on high heat and bring to boil.
- Check the back of pasta packaging for recommended cooking time. Reduce it by 2 minutes and set a timer. Place noodles in and cook al-dente. We'll finish in the frying pan.
- Dice Garlic (2 cloves) into thin pieces. Then chop a Dried Red Chili Pepper into very small pieces (we need 1/2 teaspoon).
- Take out a large frying pan. Place on Medium heat. Add in Extra-Virgin Oil (2 Tablespoons). Once the oil is hot, add in the diced Garlic and Dried Red Chili Pepper pieces.
- Once the garlic starts sizzling and gets fragrant, add in the fresh Clams. (The oil will splatter around a bit - it's okay!). Then quickly add in the White Wine (1/3 cup) and close the lid. Let the clams steam and open up.
- Once the clams open, use kitchen tonsils to pick the spaghetti straight from the boiling pot and transfer it directly into the frying pan. Then scoop in Pasta Water (3 Soup Ladles) worth.
- Now raise the frying pan to a HIGH heat. Then vigorously stir the pasta around - so that it soaks in the clam juice and pasta water. Do this for 1 minute.
- Now add in a few splashes of extra-virgin olive oil. Continue to vigorously stir until you see the juices turn into a creamy texture. (Note: If the pasta sauce turns dry, add in a few more scoops of the pasta water).
- After a total of 3-5 minutes of stirring, you should have a creamy pasta noodle. Turn off the heat. Give it a quick taste. If slightly bland, add in a few pinches of salt.
- Plate and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Bon Appetit!