Spaghetti alle Vongole, or as we call it Bongoré, is an Italian clam pasta dish that is very popular in Japan. You can easily recreate this delicious recipe at home with a few simple ingredients like manila clams, garlic, and white wine.
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.
How to De-Grit Clams
Getting the sand out of the clams is one of the most important parts of this recipe. No one wants to eat gritty clams and ruin the meal, right?
My saltwater 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!
- 1 lb manila clams
- ½ lb spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
- 2 dried red chili pepper (thinly sliced)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 sprig parsley
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- As soon as you bring the 1 lb manila clams back from the market, you must clean and de-grit them of sand and dirt; you can follow my tutorial. Start this process 1 hour prior to cooking.
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Cook the Pasta
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add ½ lb spaghetti, stirring occasionally, to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta into a colander.
To Cook the Clams
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 cloves garlic (minced) and 2 dried red chili pepper (thinly sliced). Reduce the heat to medium low and sauté until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the clams and ½ cup dry white 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. Finely chop 1 sprig parsley and add some of it to the pan (reserve some for garnish). Then, season with ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the clams to a plate.
- Taste the sauce and season with more pepper and up to ¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, as needed. The clams are already salty, so you probably don‘t need to add too much salt.
To Make the Clam Pasta
- Add the pasta to the pan with the clams and toss until the pasta is coated with the sauce.
- Remove from the heat. Transfer the spaghetti to a serving plate and add the clams on top. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jun 5, 2013.