Pasta Vongole!

I have tasted my first pasta vongole in the trip to Palermo last December. Nothing fancy but so tasty! It was at the cheap local food restaurant (or I think stall would be a more suitable word) where we had most good food in Palermo.

Palermo eating out  Palermo eating out

It’s authentic restaurant, they don’t speak English, there is no fancy decoration but you see lots of people eating there all the time. It’s located at some not nice looking street and if you are going there and want to find this restaurant, you may message me and I will find out the exact location for you.

What you do at this restaurant is that you get to choose your antipasti; I like the variety. Then you choose a pasta of your choice between the very simple olio aglio, vongole or fish sauce (I think), and you pick what type of seafood you want to be grilled or fried. Not sure they have a wine list, I think you can only choose between white or red wine.

Palermo eating out  Palermo eating out

We tried a couple of fancy restaurants but they are very disappointing. This is the most worth while place to go in Palermo in my experience. We went back two times in our 5 days trip.

My favourite fish monger in Maastricht has vongole most of the time. They have become my favourite because they are the only stall that sells seafood on Wednesday and on my last visit, they two guys was dancing some “I got a fillet (feeling)” for me when they were going to fillet the fish for me.

The vongole costs Euro 10 per pack and one pack was just nice to cook pasta for two.

So what do you need to make pasta vongole:

  • Vongole – as many as you like! We had about 35-40 for two persons
  • Spaghetti
  • Garlic – as much as you like! I love garlic so I had used about 7-8 cloves, finely chopped
  • Few stalks of basils or parsley – we ran out of parsley, so we used basil instead
  • Olive oil – a lot
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1-2 big tomato or few cherry tomatoes (optional) – cut into dice
  • Chili (optional) – you can use the chili padi or the big chili, chopped finely
  • White wine (optional) – choose a non oak white wine, 1/2 a glass
First of all, you need to go through your vongole and discard the dead one. Vongole shells that are opened (before cooking) are not good for eating.
Pasta vongole  Pasta vongole

After you have picked the good ones, soak them in cold salty water. I have added 3 tablespoons of salt into my big bowl of water. This is to fake the sea water so the vongole will breath and when they breath, they throw out the sands and dirt in them. Leave them soaked for 15 minutes, rinse and soak again. Repeat this for 3-5 times until you see that there is no more sand/dirt in the water.

Now, heat up a pan with some olive oil, put the vongole in and cover the pan for a few minutes.

Pasta vongole  Pasta vongole

After about 5 minutes, you will see the vongole opens up (cooked). When 80% of the vongole are opened, remove them from heat and leave the “juice” and olive oil in the pan.

Separate 60% of the vongole from the shells and leave some in the shells for decoration on plates later.

Pasta vongole  Pasta vongole

Cook your pasta in water (with 1 tablespoon salt and some olive oil) for 8 minutes.

Re-heat the pan with the “vongole juice” in it while adding the garlic. Taste the “sauce” and see if it’s salty. This will be your base for the sauce. Add in white wine and tomatoes (if you want to) and let the tomatoes soften in low-medium heat. High heat might dry the sauce too quickly.

Pasta vongole Pasta vongole Pasta vongole

When the garlic and tomatoes are softened, add in vongole and chili and also some water* from the boiling pasta pot. Add the cooked pasta, mix well. Turn off the heat, garnish with teared basil/parsley and sprinkle some black pepper on top. Serve on plate.

Pasta vongole

*Because I have already added some salt into the water used to boil pasta, usually I don’t need to add more salt into the sauce. Some like their pasta dry (like Willem) and some prefers it more saucy (like me). If you like it more dry, add only half a cup of water from the boiling pasta water, if you like it more saucy, add a full cup of water. Anyway, if you accidentally added too much water, you can always boil it away just make sure you add the vongole after you are happy with the sauce so that the vongole will not be over cooked.

About MyTasteHisTaste

Love eating and wine drinking.
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One Response to Pasta Vongole!

  1. Willem says:

    Pasta con vongole is probably in my top 10 all time dishes! I’m very happy Aiwee likes it too, and even can make a nice one!

    For me, adding some parsley when making the sauce makes it perfect, and I like the black pepper in it. Shredded basil only when serving.

    And a lot of very very good ‘green tasting’ extra virgin olive oil.

    Nyam Nyam

    As for the wine for such a true Italian dish, I would take an Italian wine. They have the tendency to go well with simple sea food dishes, so that works out fine.
    My mind immediately goes to Soave, a good one. At Aiwee’s pasta con pesto post I mentioned them already.
    I think with this dish the Pieropan Soave would go well, but the ‘minerality’ of the Suavia Soave would be best. All they make, but the ‘cuvee Monte Carbonara’ would make a special treat.

    Your white wines for this dish need to be certainly dry and balanced, quite light but with some ‘filling’, have light fruitiness in the aroma, preferably some ‘minerality’, and a tantalizing freshness.
    Other options can be the wines from Campania from the greco dit ufo grape, the lighter versions, like the basic cuvee from Villa Matilde, or the nice one from Monaci (which I joyfully drank with the best seafood risotto ever, at Muramare in Verona).
    A light wine from the same region that can do if you like a bit more fruitiness and even some white flower aroma is made from the Falanghina grape by Campina del Taburno (Falanghina wines are often sold under the region’s name Falerno del Massico).
    The Sicilian grillo grape is also an option, it is simple but refreshing, good for a sunny lunch. I like the one made by Firriato.

    Italians often would choose a wine from the verdicchio grape. I would only take those if made by Bellisario, Sartarelli or Garofoli. These are nice indeed, and have the minerality and tantalizing freshness, and a very Italian touch.

    If you cannot lay your hands on any of these, take the simplest pinot grigio from a very good winemaker (so pay more then average, but not the special cuvee, which would be too full in taste).


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