Oh yes, I am a fan of the clam. This is a very simple, beautiful, elegant dish that can be on your table in under 30 minutes, no sweat.
It is, obviously, a riff on the-oh-so-delicious Italian version and I urge you to give it a spin. The sake adds just the right amount of sweetness and plays nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms and brininess of the clams. The nori brings sexy back, true, and also some funky, saltiness that only a sea veggie can.
I served it with a salad of mixed greens, dulse and avocado.
japanese style linguine + clams
adapted from Mark Robinson
1 lb linguine
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
½-1 t crushed red chile pepper
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
24 littleneck clams
1/4 c sake
2 T butter (optional)
¼ c julienned nori (1 sheet)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
2-3 shiso leaves, cut into ribbons (optional)
reserved pasta water
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until firm to the bite, reserving a cup or so of the pasta water.
In a large saute pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the clams, red pepper, sake and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Cover and turn the heat up to high. Steam the clams until they open, about 5-7 minutes, shaking the pan often.
To cut the nori, make sure your knife is super sharp. Firmly press the blade down on the nori sheet, rocking it back and forth rather than trying to slice it. Slicing will cause it to tear which isn't bad but just not as pretty.
Discard any unopened clams. Season the sauce with a splash of soy, salt and pepper, add a bit more water to loosen things up as needed. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of butter to make things a little lush.
Toss the sauce the pasta and garnish with the scallions, nori and shiso. Serve immediately.