40 ml extra virgin olive oil
300 gm of vongole
1 tbsp seeded and finely chopped red chilli
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
20 ml lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
190 gm of cooked spaghettini
Big pinch of chopped flat parsley
This seems simple but pretty hard to get right. It’s all about timing your vongole with your lemon juice and butter to get the best-emulsified sauce to coat your pasta.
In a cold pan put the oil and vongole in the pan. Place the chilli, garlic and pepper on top of the vongole making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. The reason for this is depending on the juiciness of your vongole the garlic and chill can burn quite easily if your shells don’t release lots of delicious liquid.
Place a lid on top on cook on high heat. Lift the lid occasionally to check if all the shells have opened. Once they have all opened stir the chilli and garlic around the pan to ensure you are roasting it all off nicely. They will start to release their liquid.
When most of the juice from the vongole has reduced add your lemon juice and butter stirring until you see the sauce emulsify and then add your hot pasta and parsley. Now taste to see if you need salt and how much. Depending on the amount of salty water that comes out of the shells you may only need a touch.
Cook the pasta a little further in this sauce to ensure it’s soaking up all the juices and enjoy one of the best southern Italian pasta dishes ever.
Michelle Elia is head chef of Cicciolina in St Kilda. She loves cats, food and travel. You can follow her on Instagram @michelleelia