Pipis or clams are a sweet summer treat that brings back memories of childhood holidays, digging in the sand for these little pearls of meaty goodness. They're abundant at the markets now and are best cooked simply with some tomato, garlic with some spaghetti. The best reward for a day clamming!
Pipis and clams are some of my favourite things to eat and I don't mind that they're slightly fiddly to eat. I love the whole process of prising the meat out of the shell and scooping a little broth into my mouth. But I found out recently that not all my friends are as fond of pipis (a type of clam). The key is to only cook them briefly (like most seafood) so that they just open. Overcooking them makes them tough and chewy.
I was out to dinner one night with my friends and Girl Next Door took a deep breath as pipi broth was set down in front of her. She had had a bad experience with overcooked pipis that were so tough that she couldn't even chew or swallow them. It was her first week working at a food magazine and she was eager to make a good impression. However the pipi was so chewy that she had to spit it out into a napkin which of course a colleague saw. Ever since she has stayed away from them but that evening she was set to try them again. Queen Viv and Miss America took a pipi and declared that tonight was not the night for her to try them again as they were awfully chewy. Alas Girl Next Door never did get her pipi.
But when you cook pipis yourself, just cook them until they open. Seafood cooks very quickly and one of the advantages is that you can have a meal on the table very quickly! Just grab some of the sweet tomatoes that are around at the moment and have the sauce prepped and cooked while the pasta is cooking and you can have dinner ready in 15 minutes!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever had a bad or embarrassing experience with food? Have you ever had something so chewy that you couldn't swallow it? What do you do in that situation?
Tomato & Garlic Clam Spaghetti
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 500g/1.1lbs. spaghetti
- 500g/1.1lbs. clams
- 6 roma tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil for frying
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- small handful of chives or green onions
- 1 red chilli (small if you like it hot, large if you want it less hot)
Step 1 - Boil spaghetti in plenty of salted water for 6-7 minutes. While it is cooking, chop off the stem ends of the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds and juice out into a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half and then each half into quarters.
Step 2 - Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a frypan and saute the garlic. Add the tomato juice and add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and the white wine. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Add the tomatoes, clams, green onions and drained pasta to the pan and simmer to coat the spaghetti and open the clams-it only takes a few minutes. Discard any clams that are still shut. Place on plates and drizzle with some oil.