The Spaghetti Dish You Can't Live Without

When I first moved to New York, my mother-in-law made sure to pass along a lot of her local ingredient knowledge. With seafood there was one constant: Citarella. She would travel over 20 blocks to get her fish at Citarella because to her there was nothing better.

So when Joe Guerrera- Citarella’s founder and original fishmonger - came out with a book, I knew it was going to be great. The title is succinct perfection: Joe Knows Fish. I had to have Joe over and he decided to share one of his easiest recipes, Spaghetti Vongole. It starts with good pasta and very fresh cockles or littleneck clams. But it’s one of those recipes that takes only a few ingredients and makes something magical.

So if you want to hear from the guy who truly knows fish, watch the video below or make the recipe.

Spaghetti Vongole

4 pounds raw New Zealand cockles or littleneck clams
1 pound dried spaghetti
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 cloves garlic minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Rinse the cockles or clams thoroughly, making sure no sand remains. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and salt and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside in a large serving bowl or pasta pot.

Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add the garlic and heat the pan over low, stirring frequently, until the garlic just starts to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add the cockles and wine and cover the pan. Steam until the shells open, about 8 minutes, discarding any that do not open. (You can continue to cook the unopened ones for a few more minutes because some may take a little longer.)

Gently spoon the open cockles in their shells and the cooking liquid over the pasta in the reserved bowl or pot. Add the parsley and gently toss until the pasta is thoroughly coated with the broth. Sprinkle with pepper flakes if desired. Divide the pasta between 4 shallow bowls and top with the cockles in their shells and a few spoonfuls of broth. Serve immediately.