Clam Pasta ボンゴレ

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  • Spaghetti alle Vongole, or as we call it “Bongore” (ボンゴレ), is an Italian clam pasta dish which is very popular in Japan.  You can easily recreate this dish at your home with just a few simple ingredients!

    Clam Pasta in a white plate.

    Spaghetti alle Vongole (ボンゴレスパゲッティ , ボンゴレビアンコ) is an Italian classic Clam Pasta dish.  It’s a light yet flavorful pasta infused with garlic, briny clams, white wine, and chili flakes.

    Clam Pasta In Japan

    You may wonder why I’m sharing an Italian recipe as I mostly share Japanese recipes here on my blog.  The reason is quite simple.  Although this dish is an Italian classic, it’s also one of the well-known and most popular pasta dishes Japanese people enjoy at Italian or pasta restaurants (パスタ屋さん), along with Spaghetti Bolognaise (ボロネーゼ), Carbonala (カルボナーラ), and Aglio olio e peperoncino (ペペロンチーノ).

    If you have visited Japan, you’ve seen firsthand how popular Italian cuisine is over there, especially pasta!  Several Italian readers who had visited Japan told me that they feel Japan has some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy.

    Clam Pasta on a white plate.

    De-Grit Clams

    Clams in a glass bowl.

    Getting the sand out of the clams is one of the most important parts for this recipe.  No one wants to eat gritty clams and ruin the meal, right?

    My salt water method is a very common technique in Japan.  I thought it’s a universal method until someone told me Americans use cornmeal (Interesting!  How do you de-grit clams in your country?).  Whatever method you use, make sure to do this process right.

    If you want to follow my method, you can find the tutorial here.  It’s a slightly lengthy process, but it’s easy to follow and you will be pleasantly surprised how well your clams purges the sands with this method!

    Clam Pasta on a plate with a bottle and a glass of wine on wooden table.

    Wine Pairing with Clam Pasta

    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 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 notes are 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.

    Clam Pasta on a white plate.

    I hope you enjoyed my Clam Pasta recipe!  If you make this recipe, snap a picture and hashtag it #JustOneCookbook.  I love to see your creations on InstagramFacebook, & Twitter!  Thank you so much for reading and trying the recipes!

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    5 from 1 vote
    Clam Pasta (Spaghetti alle Vongole) ボンゴレ | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    Clam Pasta
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    4 hrs 25 mins
    Spaghetti alle Vongole, or as we call it "Bongore" (ボンゴレ), is an Italian clam pasta dish which is very popular in Japan.  You can easily recreate this dish at your home with just a few simple ingredients!
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Italian, Japanese
    Keyword: seafood pasta, vongole
    Servings: 2
    Author: Nami
    • 1 lb manila clams (1 lb = 454g) (See Step 1 to de-grit)
    • ½ lb spaghetti (½ lb = 227g)
    • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 red chilies
    • ½ cup dry white wine (½ cup = 120 ml)
    • 1 sprig parsley
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • salt (kosher or sea salt; use half if using table salt)
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Clam Pasta Ingredients
    2. De-grit clams (here’s how to do it).  Start this process 4 hours prior to cooking (or at least 1.5 hour before).
      How To Degrit Clams | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    3. 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.
      Clam Pasta 1
    4. 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.
      Clam Pasta 2
    5. 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.
      Clam Pasta 3
    6. Discard the clams that didn’t open.  Finely chop parsley and add some of it, then season with pepper. Transfer the clams to a plate.
      Clam Pasta 4
    7. Taste the sauce and season with pepper and salt (clams are already salty so you probably don't need to add too much salt).
      Clam Pasta 5
    8. Add the pasta and toss until pasta is coated with the sauce.
      Clam Pasta 6
    9. Remove from the heat and place pasta on a serving plate and put clams on top.  Sprinkle some parsley and serve immediately.

    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Disclaimer: We received no compensation for the wine review. We received Pfendler Chardonnay from Jarvis Communications, free of charge to use in exchange for an honest review.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jun 5, 2013.  

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