Pasta and clams

A little attention to detail elevates this dish from good to great -  carefully infusing the oil, not adding too much liquid, ensuring that the alcohol in the wine is burned off. There are hundreds of variations on this recipe, but when we have telline (teh-leen-ee) in the shops we urge you to keep things simple and let these beautifully sweet clams really sing.

Serves 2, takes 20 minutes.

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Method

1. Prepare a large pan of heavily salted, boiling water in readiness for the pasta.

2. Finely dice the tomato, retaining the seeds. Slice the garlic into slivers (don't crush or dice). Finely slice the chilli into thin rings. 

3. Place a deep frying pan over a low heat. Add the oil, tomato, garlic, chilli and a generous pinch of salt,  and allow everything to warm up together, slowly. Cook over a very low heat - you'll see only the tiniest little bubbles moving through the oil - for 10 minutes. Nothing should colour.

4. While the oil is infusing, rinse the clams. To do this, tip the clams into a large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and rigorously stir with your hands. Pour out the water, and repeat twice more with fresh water. Drain, discard any clams that haven't closed shut, and set to one side. 

5. Put the pasta in to cook, and only cook it to very al dente - the trick is to finish the cooking process with the clams. 

5. Remove the tomato, garlic and chilli from the oil with a slotted spoon and set to one side in a small bowl. It doesn't matter if there are some remnants of tomato in the oil, however all of the garlic should be removed.

6. Turn up the heat, add the wine to the infused oil and let it bubble and reduce for 3-4 minutes, until the alcohol has burned off (give it a taste to check). Add the clams and cook for 3 minutes, by which time most of them should be open. Add the juice of half a lemon.

7. Add the almost-cooked pasta to the clams along with 2tbsp pasta water and the cooked garlic, tomato and chilli. Add a lid and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon and salt as desired, and serve immediately. 

 

Ingredients

1 large tomato

1 fat clove of garlic

1 green chilli

4 tbsp olive oil

Big pinch sea salt

6 tbsp dry white wine

350g telline clams 

250g long pasta - spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine all work well

 

 

Springtime scallops

A simple, sumptuous lunch or supper to make the most of British asparagus season and big, fat scallops. Ingredients below are per person; if you make this for more than two, cook the scallops in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, otherwise they'll steam rather than caramelise. 

Ingredients

4 spears of asparagus

Lots of butter

A glug of olive oil

1/2 a leek

Pinch of chilli flakes

4 scallops

Big pinch of salt

1/2 a lemon

1 big slice of good bread, toasted

Method

1. Remove and discard the woody ends of the asparagus and cut each stalk in half to make two shorter pieces.

2. Warm a large frying pan over a high heat. Add a knob of butter and a glug of olive oil and sauté the asparagus until golden brown, around 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.

3. Turn the heat down, put a little more butter in the pan, and gently fry the leeks and chilli flakes until the leeks are nice and soft. Set the leeks to one side with the asparagus.

4. Turn the heat under the pan right up, and add a little more oil and butter. Add the scallops and a big pinch of salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until deep golden brown. Add the asparagus and leeks back to the pan with a huge squeeze of lemon. Serve atop the warm toasted bread, which will soak up all of the delicious cooking juices, with a wedge of lemon.

Vietnamese-style Caramel Monkfish

Our take on Cá Kho To, a Vietnamese dish of catfish simmered in a salty-sweet fermented fish sauce caramel. If preparing in advance, make the caramel sauce first (step 3) and don't salt the fish until shortly before cooking.

Serves 2, takes around 40 minutes.

1. Sprinkle the monkfish fillets with the salt and set to one side while you prepare the sauce and vegetables.

2. Peel and slice the garlic. Chop the spring onions into 2cm batons. Slice the ginger into thin slices (if you do this on the diagonal you'll get nice big slices which are easy to avoid when eating).

3. For the sauce, place the white sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, and cook until you obtain a dark caramel (around 8-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the coconut water, fish sauce, and black pepper - be careful when adding the liquids as the temperature of the sugar will create steam. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Heat a claypot or heavy cast iron saucepan, large enough to accommodate both monkfish steaks in a single layer, over a medium heat. Add the oil, and then the spring onions, garlicginger and dried chilli, and cook for 2 minutes, until very lightly coloured. Add the caramel sauce and reduce by around a quarter, then add the monkfish. Simmer until cooked - this should take around 15 minutes - and regularly baste the top of the fish steaks with the sauce. Turn the steaks over after 7 minutes, and continue simmering and basting for a further 8 or so minutes. Place the lid on the pot and allow to rest for 5 minutes, before serving with rice.

2 large monkfish steaks on the bone

1/2 tsp fine salt

6 spring onions

Thumb-sized piece of ginger

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

30g white sugar

60ml water

220ml coconut water

60ml fish sauce

A few twists of black pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil