Clam Pasta or Spaghetti alle Vongole (ボンゴレスパゲッティ , ボンゴレビアンコ) is one of the most popular Italian pasta in Japan along with Spaghetti Bolognaise (Spaghetti Meat Sauce), Carbonala, Aglio olio e peperoncino (Japanese call it “Peperoncino”), and Spagehtti Neapolitan (I shared the recipe in this post).
You may wonder why I’m sharing Italian recipes (because I share mainly Japanese recipes here on my blog). The reason is Italian cuisine is wildly popular in Japan, especially pasta! I’ve received email and comments from several Italian readers about how amazing Italian restaurants are in Japan that they’ve tried. They’ve commented to me saying Japan has some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy (of course there are not so great ones too, but that’s everywhere, I guess).
Not only do the Japanese enjoy pasta at Italian restaurants, but we also cook at home. Clam Pasta, or Spaghetti Alle Vongole, is an especially easy one. The meal is ready in less than half an hour. I have been pre-occupied lately with some food projects that I’m working on before leaving for Japan at the end of this month. Not having enough time to cook multi-dish meals, this quick and easy pasta recipe often comes in handy and saves our family dinner.
Now my husband Shen would like to review the wine that we paired with this pasta for dinner. Here’s what he wants to say.
To match with clam pasta’s spicy kick from red chili pepper, we’ve paired it with Pfendler Chardonnay. Honestly, it’s a small miracle that I was actually able to write my thoughts on this wine as I almost finished the the entire bottle without even realizing it. The Pfendler 2011 Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. I would describe its character similar to sweet nectar, almost like a dessert wine.
As you first sip this wine, there is a burst of buttery peach flavor slowly coating your tongue. Slowly as the wine passes your mouth, more flavors come to light, exposing a bit of spice, the feeling a pear dancing your palate, and finishing note is creamy and rich. The wine leaves your mouth very clean and leaving behind a hint fruity note. It makes you want to take one more sip as your mind tries to figure out exactly what flavors you’ve been tasting. I highly recommend this wine if you enjoy complex chardonnay with a beautiful finish.
Lastly, as a note Chardonnay should never be served too cold. You want to be able to taste great white wine and not drink “cold wine” which mask the flavors.
- 1 lb (450-500g) fresh manila clams (They need to be de-gritted.)
- ½ lb (227g) spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 red chilies
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- De-grit clams (here’s how to do it).
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta into a colander.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. When it’s hot, add garlic and red chili pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and sauté until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the clams and wine and increase the heat to medium. Quickly cover and steam for 5 minutes or until all the clams have opened.
- Discard the clams that didn’t open and add 1 Tbps. parsley and season with pepper. Transfer the clams to a plate.
- Taste the sauce and season with pepper and salt (clams are already salty so you probably don't need to add too much salt).
- Add the pasta and toss until pasta is coated with the sauce.
- Remove from the heat and place pasta on a serving plate and put clams on top. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve immediately.