I love a quick pasta dish, and clams are a simple but delicious way of taking this pantry staple to the next level.
Auckland restaurant Harbourside’s head chef, Thomas Barta, worked as a young chef in Italy and fell in love with pasta. This is a favourite recipe of his. It’s quick and easy to make, and it’s utterly delightful to eat!
I like the idea of being able to rustle up a meal like this in under 10 minutes, so unless I was going for a super-special dish, I’d just do the carbonara and use store-bought fresh pasta. I’ve included the pasta recipe anyway though, just because it’s awesome!
CLOUDY BAY CLAMS CARBONARA
For the pasta dough:
- 550 g pasta flour
- 6 free range egg yolks
- 4 whole free range eggs
- Pinch salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, olive oil and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the slightly beaten egg, and mix. The mixture should form a stiff dough. (Pasta dough should not be too dry or too wet.)
On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 4 to 5 minutes.
With a pasta machine or by hand , roll dough out to desired thinness and cut it into linguini shape (long, but flatter than spaghetti).
If pasta is not getting used immediately it’s a good idea to quickly blanch it in salted boiling water for about 30 seconds and cool it down in ice water to stop the cooking process. Toss it in olive oil and store it in a container in the fridge.
For the Carbonara:
- 500g Cloudy Bay Diamond Shell Clams
- 100g smoked pancetta
- 100g chopped shallots
- 50g chopped fennel
- 1 tsp diced chilli
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
- 50ml white wine
- 100g Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 egg yolks
- Salt and pepper, to season
Mix finely grated Parmesan with 2 or 3 egg yolks (depending on how saucy you like your pasta) in a big bowl.
In a hot medium size pan, heat up the olive oil, add pancetta and fry until almost crispy. Add shallot, garlic, fennel and chilli and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the clams, give the ingredients a good mix and de-glaze the pan with the white wine.
Cover the pan with a lid and steam the clams until they open. Re-heat the pre-blanched pasta in a hot boiling salted water for about a minute.
Strain the pasta and add it, along with a little bit of pasta water to the clams.
Mix well and transfer the whole pan into the bowl with the parmesan-egg yolk mix. Mix it fast, adding more pasta water if you like your carbonara more saucy. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg mix and will create a beautiful sauce.
Season it with good amount of salt and lemon juice, cracked pepper and heaps of chopped parsley. We garnish it at Harbourside with crispy serrano ham , shaved fennel and freshly-grated Parmesan.