Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce - One of my "Go To" Favorites

There are certain recipes all cooks have that form the base of their culinary repertoire. These are recipes that are fast and easy, that they can create from memory, with no notes, in any kitchen, for any group, any time of the year. Some Chefs refer to these as their "go to" dishes. This red clam sauce is one of my "go to" recipes.

It's incredible simple to make (much easier than saying "canned clams" as you'll hear in this clips running gag). It takes about 15 minutes start to finish. It's bursting with flavor, yet only uses a few ingredients and except for crushing a couple cloves of garlic, requires no prep. This sauce is great on any pasta, but I enjoy it best on angle hair or spaghetti. And, yes, I DO put some Parmesan on my clam pasta, thank you very much. Never say never when it comes to food. Some Chefs (fascists) say you can never put cheese on seafood pasta, never, ever, never. Well, while I agree that Parmesan would not be a great choice on some seafood pastas using very light, delicate varieties of fish and sauce. On this red clam sauce and its strong, bold flavors and meaty clams, the Parmesan tastes wonderful, and no one can prove me otherwise.

Please note while watching the video recipe the secret to what I think makes a great pasta dish. Under-cook the pasta by a minute, drain it, add it back to the pot (off the heat of course) and pour over the hot sauce, cover and let everything meld together for a few minutes. The hot sauce and steaming pasta will finish cooking and the pasta will absorb all those amazing flavors. I can't believe it when I see a plate of plain pasta with the sauce just ladled over! Anyway, give this a try and maybe it will become one of your "go to" recipes. Enjoy!

1 pound pasta
2 cans (6.5 oz) chopped clams in juice
3 cups tomato sauce (plus 1/4 cup water to rinse jar)
1 cup good white wine
1 tbl anchovy paste or 2 fillets
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbl capers
2 tbl olive oil
Parmesan to taste
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herb to taste, basil or Italian parsley

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey! I got a little happy "thrill" when you added that cheese to that clam sauce.

Last time I was in Italy a very snooty british born waitress in a very so-so restaurant barked at me re:the no cheese thing right at the moment I ordered linguini with clam sauce. The weird thing about it was I hadn't even ASKED for cheese. Sheeeesh!

Now I make sure I add cheese to all things seafood+italian because it makes me laugh!

Chef John said...

These poeple must be stopped. They are the same people telling me I can't wear white pants after Labor Day!

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean white shoes?

childsdish said...

In the last frames of the demonstration video, the spaghetti looked saucier than when you closed the lid to let the pasta & sauce settle. Did you reserve some sauce to add when serving or?

Chef John said...

Yeah, those too!

Chef John said...

No, Thats the secret, as it sits and "rests" for a few minutes covered, the slightly undercooked pasta sucks up the sauce and flavors and when you add that little bit of cheese at the end it all comes together. So it will look "saucy" when you first pour in the sauce, but by the time you serve its perfect.

Anonymous said...

Finishing work late tonight so won't have time for anything fancy, that's going to do the trick!

Bill W, NH said...

mmm - yum, one of my favorite dishes, will try it soon. How's about a white clam sauce there Chef? Cheers

Anonymous said...

You know there was another chef that said it was okay to put cheese on seafood pasta. And his name was Jacque Pipan ( I forgot how to spell his name). So one day on his show he said his wife and him were out eating , the wife orders a seafood pasta dish, and asks for some cheese, the chef got so mad that he came out and said "which one of you wanted the cheese?!"The wife was scared and said he did. The Chef then said it was ok. (lol)

Chef John said...

I believe you'll find one posted back in March. I should put a link on this recipe, in case people are looking for a butterfat fix.

Kenneth said...

I always put Italian cheese when I cook pasta with tuna which is my "Go To" favorite :) Tastes just great; hey maybe I should try your dish but with tuna instead... I don't think it's a good idea to pour the tuna oil from the can to the sauce though; the tuna I use is of John West and in Brine...

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Thank you for another great recipe! What type of tomato sauce did you use? Would canned tomatos work, or even fresh blended peeled tomatoes? thanks again...

Chef John said...

I used Barilla Tomato Basil. Thats my favorite jarred sauce. Canned tomatoes would work, but need to be seeded and seasoned and cooked, etc. Thats why I cheated. Fresh tomatoes also are fine as long as you adjust the seasoning. Obviously the Barilla sauce im using (hey, Barilla hit the donation button!!) is already seasoned with salt, pepper, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great :) What a fast response!Can´t wait to try the recipe. Thanks again..

Clay said...

This dish is perfect as an "emergency" dish to have in the kitchen. All the ingredients preserve well, so it would be great to put on in a pinch. Here is my question though, like in your white clam dish, could you substitute anchovie fillets instead of the tube? (Which I wouldn't even know where to look for!)

Chef John said...

yes, 2 fillet are fine, I actually had that in the ingredients.

Chef John said...

in this recipe that is

Scott - Boston said...

You've done it again! Easy, informative, informal, and delicious.
Question : For your white clam sauce you used Flotts clams. But for this you used Snows clams (I know, I know, I sound like a FoodWishes PHD). I'm thinking it's whatever clams you have available to you. Any noticable difference between the two brands? It's much more costly (that's if you can even get them) for fresh, but money aside is fresh just not worth it?

Also, looks like you were leaning towards a Putanesca. Any thoughts?

Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

The main dif is Flotts are small whole baby clams, and the Snows are large sea clams chopped into small pieces. I like them both, but use the Flotts when I can get them. As far fresh, I personally wouldnt use those for anything except a quick steam and some lemon butter! In this dish, why waste them.

Yes, the classic "Putanesca" base of flavors work for almost any red sauce IMO. The smell of garlic, anchovy, caper and red pepper frying in olive oil is intoxicating.

And, if you don't get it at home, then you have to go out and pay for it. ;) <- Putanesca joke

Dominic said...

Indeed- a sprinkling of cheese on clams and pasta is great.

Anonymous said...

Chef John -
Just discovered your site via the Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce picture on Tastespotting.
I had a dish similar to this at a local, family-run Italian restaurant and have wanted to recreate it for myself for ages. I frequently have cravings for something "tomatoey, spicey and seafoody" (yes- that's what I call it when I'm trying to describe to my husband what I want for dinner.)
This SO hit my craving spot on. I've never even THOUGHT about making a dish that contained clams or anchovy paste before, so this was a new experience for me - and a yummy one at that.
P.S. Hubby and I will load up on the Parmesan, too. GOOD CALL! THANKS.
-LAQ

Jason said...

I made this for dinner last night. It was amazing. I think I have a new favorite spaghetti dish. Thanks Chef!

Anonymous said...

Perfect dish! Good ingredients, healthy food. I am from Italy and also I put parmiggiano on seafood-pasta-dishes. No waiters or chef never treatened me (so far). But there is always someone commenting: "non ci va il formaggio sul pesce!". What can you do?

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Very nice. Cheap, quick, convenient, delicious. Almost every ingredient comes out of your cupboard. I won't forget this dish.

Twerg said...

wow something like this is "to go" wow,lol.

rockness said...

I made this tonight. It was transcendental. I mean that in a good way not in the whole "Maharashi Yogi screwed over the Beatles" kind of way.

Chef John said...

thanks! where's my sitar?

Thomas said...

Where do you buy anchovy paste?
I have some salted anchovies. Can I use them in stead?

Chef John said...

sure those are even better, i get it at whole foods.

Anonymous said...

What kind of tomato sauce do you use? It looks homemade. I saw your recipe for pizza sauce, but I didn't see one for pasta sauce. the dish looks great by the way

Chef John said...

I dont remember :( I usually use Barilla brand

rubin2k said...

Dear Mr. Chef John,

Yesterday i made your spaghetti tuna recipe and today i made the spaghetti red clam and I enjoyed both very much. One problem/question i had with the red clam sauce is that the red sauce came out very watery (because of the clam juice and 1 cup of win instead of no tuna juice and half cup wine in the red tuna sauce) Anyway i had to simmer the clam sauce a lot longer and simmer even some more after the sauce was poured over the pasta. I really like the thickness of the red tuna sauce but this sauce was too watery. what do you suggest for the future? should i only use one can of clam juice or no clam juice or is it essential for this recipe? also have you ever used the tuna juice in the red tuna sauce?

thank you very much!

Chef John said...

im sorry, but Im not 100% clear on your question, but I don't use the tuna juice. If I want a sauce thicker, I always boil it to reduce. This works unless it's something that's salty.

Anonymous said...

Chef, how come you never use basil for your tomato sauce pasta? being new to cooking, I always think that Italian tomato sauce is best friend with basil.

Chef John said...

I do many times, but I guess I havent caught it on film yet! I also have lots of fresh thyme and oregano in my yard. But, yes, basil and tomato always a great couple.

Anonymous said...

So, if I follow this recipe down to the quarter teaspoon, how many servings will it make?

Chef John said...

about 4 good servings

Susie said...

Can I use live clams?

Josh Stevanus said...

Chef John,

Do you use the "chopped" or "minced" type of clams? It looked like chopped to me. I've made chowder with the minced kind, and some is a bit gritty.

Chef John said...

they are chopped

Trevor Eichberg said...

Hey Chef,

How would canned salmon sound as a substitute for clams? We have a few of these cans left and I'd love to put them to use if they go well in this dish. Let me know your thoughts.

Chef John said...

not a big fan of salmon and tomato sauce, personally.

Trevor Eichberg said...

Tuna, maybe?

Chef John said...

yes!

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Alex said...

Dear Chef John, you are my cooking hero. I'm a college student and I have been craving red clam sauce and spaghetti recipe for a long time since I've been away from home. I made this tonight and it turned out excellent. Unfortunately I forgot to add the red pepper flakes, but it was still delicious!

Anonymous said...

Dear Chef John,
I have been wanting to make a really good traditional spaghetti lately so I'm using my mother's delicious meaty sauce recipe, and I was wondering if you knew where to find any good pasta recipes (yes I want to make it myself, I know I am crazy) Do you reccomend just forgetting the idea? I've heard making your own pasta can be a real pain in the arse.

Chef John said...

here u go
http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2007/07/homemades-making-pasta-with-uncle-bill.html

Anonymous said...

Canned clams can be sooo hard to find in London! Any tips, fellow London-dwelling foodies?

cager38 said...

Your recipe sounds great--and in such a short time too. I'm going to try it this week. I don't care for the Greek olives and was wondering if I could sub with pimento stuffed green olives, (or just omit the olives?). I was pleased to read that you use Barilla Tomato & Basil Sauce. I tried it about three years ago and now it's the only sauce I use. Rarely, I do cook a meatball and tomato sauce recipe that came from an Italian grandma who gave it to a friend of mine many years ago, but it's a lot of work and takes hours to make. How do you store the balance of the tomato paste? I really enjoy your blog--keep up te good work.

arose4lee said...

This has GOT TO BE one of my most favourite recipes of yours Chef John! I make it every now and then and it is SO tasty and easy! Thank you so much for making this video.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

"And, if you don't get it at home, then you have to go out and pay for it. ;) <- Putanesca joke"... Chef John.

Pretty funny! I can't believe you haven't been called out on it already.

Incidentally this is one of those mandatory recipes to have if you don't have refrigeration aboard your sailboat.

Food Junkie said...

I made this up today after really enjoying the spaghetti with oil and garlic. This is a really excellent sauce. Easy with a magnificent flavour perfectly suitable for showing off. This one is going into my Mastercook files for sure.

Anonymous said...

Q: How do you get a Swedish blonde girl to love you even more?
A: You prepare this dish exactly as Chef John shows you, throw a little basil on top, light a candle and let it do it's work.
You are the man Chef John!
#1 Canadian fan in Sweden.

philogaia said...

Did this pasta for lunch today. It is indeed as wonderful as others say. I used Trader Joe's cherry stone clams (big suckers), home-canned tomatoes, extra garlic, and added sprigs of marjoram and thyme (since I wasn't using a prepared sauce.) I also used chicken stock with a squirt of lemon and a splash of vodka instead of white wine as I didn't want to open a bottle today.

I bought a big can of salt-packed anchovies last year which I transferred to a bale-top jar with all the salt. I was going on Alice Water's advice that I must have that. I haven't actually used them much until I started preparing pasta sauces using your techniques, Chef John. Now a fillet of anchovy goes in lots of things I would have not thought of before. The Italian MSG image works well for me. Thanks.

Lucifera said...

I do something very similar, except I ditch the anchovy paste and add a bunch of baby bella mushrooms (which for some reason I always have a few pints in my fridge.) Still, quick and delicious!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hey Chef, the pantry aboard my boat is somewhat bare so I had to improvise...

olive oil
one onion
tin of Kipper's Smoked Herring
can of chopped tomatos
can of tomato paste, 6 oz
splash of merlot
garlic, six
capers, smooshed
handful of Italian seaoning
splash of water
red pepper flakes
parmesean, (a couple of packets from the pizzeria)

It came out decent enough... no refrigeration needed for any of the above ingredients and good enough for my palate at least.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure It was Hitler who made that no-parmesan-on-seafood rule. He probably started the idea that a dessert mousse has jello in it too. Those are the crappy mousses and do not deserve to be called such.

I say this because I'm making your real chocolate mousse recipe along with this one tonight.

conishkee said...

I made a substantial amount of this dish over the weekend, and I'm here to express that the entire pot was gone the same day. It was incredibly tasty and everyone LOVED it, me included! I can't wait to make it again. The only thing I did different was to add a whole green bell pepper and a large onion cut up, along with a couple of bay leafs. Yum!!

pc said...

My niece is allergic to anchovies. Is there a substitute for anchovies or can I do without it?

Thanks.

Chef John said...

Just leave out.

pc said...

Thanks for the reply on the anchovies. I was taking cooking lessons in my spare time when I was in college and had a chef who told me you must always follow the recipe to the letter or you lose the essence of the meal, except salt and pepper. Years later I am still apprehensive about altering any meal to my liking. When I am making a recipe and I see an ingredient I can't eat, am not familiar, or don't like usually I skip the meal instead of altering it but this looked to good to pass up.

Chef John said...

That may be the worst advice I've ever heard!! No real chef would ever tell some they have to follow every recipe to the letter. Just completely ridiculous! One reason I don't offer written recipes, besides hating to type, and not having time, is because people that just mindlessly follow written instructions to the "t" never become great cooks.

Nepenthe said...

Is there a substitute for the wine or will leaving it out completely change the taste? I think I posted this same question on the wrong recipe, lol.

Chef John said...

Taste is subjective, but I think the recipe is much better with the wine. They make non alcohol wines.

Nepenthe said...

Thanks, Chef John! I love that I can ask you questions and you reply right away! Thanks for all that you do!

Unknown said...

I have kept the small jar I bought capers in ages ago. I keep it to put anchovies in covered with some olive oil. Keeps forever. Doesn't look nice in the fridge but as soon as it loses the chill it looks like regular old anchovies. Yvonne

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Thank you for such a great recipe! My 4 sons who are 5(twins), 3, and 1.5 love this. One of my 5 year olds ask me to make this 3 times a week he loves it sooooo much. I will definitely be looking for other recipes on your site.

Anonymous said...

My son and were at the beach the other day and he dug up some really nice clams.....I promised my wife and son spaghetti and clams but since I didn't store them right etc.. etc.. I couldn't use them...I came across this recipe in my desperation... I was skeptical, and a little snobby says my wife....but canned clams, really? Well I just used this recipe and I am more than a little impressed, I used whole baby clams, but otherwise I followed your directions to a T and it was a huge success...will certainly be a go to for me as well and I'll be sure to share this site with everyone I know.....THANKS SO MUCH!....feel proud, you made another foodie happy today.

Jon
Vancouver Island, BC

Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you, thank you.....just made this meal yet again, and it was even better the second time around...adjustments here and there to make things perfect....amazingly you can pretty much use any jarred/canned sauce and it will still come out great!

thanks again!

Jon

Anonymous said...

Can i use fresh clams instead of canned?

Pieter Schaafsma said...

I just made this dish tonight and it was fantastic! My wife, who doesn't usually like any pasta dish, went back for seconds on this one.

Dan and Hilary said...

Chef John, when I was young and foolish and love was just a game, I had little interest in cooking. One summer in college I was a waiter in a nice little family owned Italian restaurant in Lake George. This was my first experience working at a restaurant and I was fortunate to try all of the delicious Italian food they made all summer, including red and white clam sauce.

I can not wait to try this out and put it in my pasta rotation. Going to add anchovy pastes and clanned cams to my next shopping list. Thanks for alleviating the fear for us home cooks with your awesome demos.

By the way, re-found this link on your hot wheels suggested posts, so I appreciate those recommended re-posts, especially for us veteran foodwishers that have watched them all and lose track of your recipes. Keep 'em coming man!

Chef John said...

Thank you!

Rachel Wein said...

I know this is an older video tutorial but I love that you can hear the sound effects from the cooking process; my "food wish" is that you resume using volume from your videos (even just as background noise) so we all know if something should be "sizzling" or "steaming" etc.

Aidann said...

Thank you Chef John for another amazing recipe! Made this tonight and we loved it! This is going in my rotation. I have to be honest, I haven't made a recipe of yours I didn't like....and I've made many. Kudos!

Teen daughter's mom said...

Chef John, so my teen daughter's friend intro your apple cider vinegar pork chop recipe to me last year and it's like, TaaDaa!!! I found Heaven! !! The light has shunned on me!! I've been following only your recipes for just about for any dishes! ! Thought I like you know and Thank You for all so easy to follow videos! !

Boozy Tooth said...

Made this tonight...swoon! My husband who isn't a fan of clams OR anchovies, SCARFED this down and asked me to make it again soon. Major score. I loved it too. Lots. Thanks for this great recipe. I posted my finished dish photo and your link on my Facebook page. PS: I was a little confused about the "tomato sauce" ingredient, but the jar whispered "marinara," so I went with a jar of that. Worked like a dream. Thanks so much. I think I love you.