I’d been thinking about clams for days. Shells clacking against the bowl as they’re tossed through steaming pasta, starchy water dripping through the late February sunlight; their sweet meat like tiny treats to slurp from exploded hinges and their saline juices, mingled with the honk of garlic and chilli and the fermented depth of miso.
We made this riff on spaghetti alle vongole into a Friday lunchtime treat, threading tangles of crisp, salty agretti (monk’s beard) through the dish to bring freshness and colour. This Italian coastal plant is very popular on London menus at the moment and I couldn’t resist buying a bunch in Peckham’s General Store. It’s not the kind of vegetable I’ll buy often (too expensive) but the thought of it playing with the white miso and clams was too much for this hopeless ingredient spod to resist.
We ate it with a half bottle of chilled rosé hanging about in the fridge and plenty of bread to squidge into the clammy juices left over. It felt as good as a holiday.
Spaghetti with Agretti, Clams and White Miso Recipe
250g clams (I didn’t weigh them tbh but just grab a nice big load of clams from a fishmonger, a couple of handfuls per dish if you like)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 heaped tablespoon white miso, mixed with a little of the pasta cooking water until dissolved
A large knob butter (don’t be shy, use about 25g)
Splash of white wine
Put the pasta on to cook in plenty of boiling, salted water.
You’ll need around 5 minutes or so for the next bit so when the pasta is around 5 minutes from being cooked, start the sauce. Melt the butter in a large, lidded frying pan with a small splash of olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and chilli flakes and cook out for a minute or so, stirring.
Add the clams and agretti, then turn up the heat to medium/high and splash in the white wine. Put a lid on and let them steam for around 4 minutes, or until all the clams have opened up.
Remove the lid and mix in the miso. Splash in a ladle of pasta water too, then drain the pasta and toss it all together. Serve immediately with good bread for those juices.