Seafood Recipes

Clam Linguine

April 17, 2008


Blimey.. A bit of a posting week this one.

So, clam linguine. I reckon pretty much everyone has eaten some form of this dish, somewhere. Clams and pasta, in a wine broth. To be honest, there isn’t really much there that can go wrong!!

Clam Linguine has always been one of Danika’s favorite dishes, so it has ended up that I have eaten my fair share. I have had some really good, and some stonkingly bad ones too. One restaurant that I actually really highly regard, but shall remain nameless, did such a bad version of it, we couldn’t eat it. I swear there was two sticks of butter in it. It was completely gross. It also tasted like no alcohol had been burnt off at all. Buttery wine if you will.

Anyhow, enough of the bad.. I originally made up my own clam linguine recipe a year or so ago when I was trying to get the Wrightfood cookbook published (for the latest story on that, feel free to email me). I haven’t cooked it a great deal since then to be honest. Danika was off shellfish when she was pregnant with Drake, and I haven’t actually cooked it since.

So. What makes mine different? Well, this is really very light. The butter is kept to a minimum. I don’t use canned/jar clams to bolster the dish up a bit. Clams come in a shell, not a jar. I also don’t like too much spice in mine. I have eaten a few clam linguine dishes out that have just had waaaaaay too many red pepper flakes in it for my taste. I am sensitive to spice – a little goes a long way for me.

This is really just me playing around with a classic dish, and making it how I like it. The flavors here come from wine, aromatics, herbs, and some great clams. A final sprinkle of red pepper flakes is great, so too is a little parmesan if you are feeling sassy.

And where does one find good clams in Seattle? Drum roll.. Mutual Fish of course! Well duh. You kinda knew I was going to say that. My favorite seafood provider by a country mile. With clams in hand, this dish is really a snap to make – perfect for a quick weeknight, where you want something that tastes like you have been in the kitchen for an hour, but you haven’t.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe.

Clam Linguine

(serves 2)

50(ish) manilla clams

1/2 cup red onion – chopped

1/2 cup shallots – chopped

2 cloves of garlic – chopped

small handful of fresh thyme leaves – coarsely chopped

small handful of fresh oregano leaves – coarsely chopped

1 decent sized glass of dry white wine

1 small handful of basil and parsley (1 small handful total) – chopped

1/2 cup of either clam juice or chicken stock

red pepper flakes

grated parmesan cheese


1 tablespoon of butter

olive oil

Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta.

Start by cleaning the clams. Run each clam under cold water, and gently scrub with a brush. If the shell is broken, or the clam is open and doesn’t close up when you touch it – lob it out. Repeat for all clams.

Get a large, high sided sauté pan over a medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil, and get it hot. Add the onions, shallots, thyme and oregano. Cook slowly for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the linguine to the boiling pasta water, and cook according to package directions.

Crank up the heat to high, and add the glass of white wine. Let this cook down by about half – until the alcohol smell has gone. Gently add the clams, and stir to combine. Put a lid on the pan. Let this cook for a minimum of 3 minutes. We are steaming the clams open in the wine. You might be able to hear the clams opening. After 3 minutes, take the lid off the pan and check out the clams. If 95% of em aren’t open, put the lid back on, and let it cook for another couple of minutes.

When most of the clams are open, add in the butter and stock/clam juice. Gently mix to combine. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and the parsley and basil.

To serve – divide the pasta between two plates. Top with the clams. Pour the pan broth/juices over both plates. Top with a little grated parmesan if you wish.

Serve with a side bowl/cup to put the clam shells in.


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  • diva April 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    i totally agree with you – keep the butter and spices to a minimum when cooking with shellfish because they’re so flavourful on their own, you really don’t need much to make a tasty dish with it! great food shots…x

  • mattwright April 17, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Hi MrsDocChuck..

    I am still trying to figure out what part of your posts are funny, and what are serious!

    So my approach to clam linguine is a bit different. I didn’t want to use the usual 2 cows worth of butter in broth. It just simply overpowers for me. And as for canned clams – I prefer to keep it light, and not use them. Yes, they certainly do bolster the stock, but that isn’t for me with this dish.

    Sometimes richness is over-rated, in my opinion. It is good to produce light, delicate, balanced flavors sometimes.

    Congrats on being senior editor of serious eats, you seem very proud about that.

    I certainly wouldn’t rate fine chinese cuisine above fine Italian – both are completely different, and can both be simply incredible.

    Thanks again for the comment, it is nice to get comments from people so passionate about certain dishes.

  • robin April 17, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Matt… I just stumbled on your blog and was stunned by how beautiful and mouth-watering your clams look! I’ve never prepared clams myself but I really want to soon, maybe I will try this recipe.

    And about DocChuck… this person comments on people’s blogs, usually when they are on Tastespotting. I haven’t quite figured it out either, some comments are nice, some nasty, some hilarious. I mostly delete his comments. Doesn’t do much good talking to him, as he’ll just keep coming back writing bizarre things in different aliases.

  • mattwright April 17, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Robin – thanks for the kind comment! This will be a different tasting clam linguine, if you try it – much lighter than most.

    I try not to delete any comments (unless they are spam) – everyone really is entitled to their own opinions. As for MrsDocChuck – I have no idea if this was a serious email, and you were deliberately flouncing your credentials, or you were having a bit of a laugh. Your opinions on clam linguine are obviously respected though. I found your post ammusing. I hope it was meant to be that way!

  • Marc @ NoRecipes April 18, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Awesome! I love that there are so many clams on top that you can’t actually see the linguine. And you’re right, clams should come in shells, not cans, or jars or any other man-made vessel.

  • Niamh April 18, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Hi Matt! Nice blog. Love your photography. This looks like a lovely recipe and I absolutely agree with you – clams come in a shell NOT a jar!

  • Nina April 21, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Less is more and in your recipe it is evident that simplicity is spot on.

    Ps. MrsDocChuck has got you guys wondering, ha-ha.

  • matt wright April 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Nina

    I guess this is my first encounter with that bloke.. I have got a few emails from fellow bloggers telling me about him – and lets just say his comments will be deleted from my blog.