Cooking with shellfish intimidates me.  And while I have expanded my love of seafood greatly (oysters forever!), I get so squirrely when it comes to working with anything ocean-fresh, let alone alive, in my own kitchen.  

But this is a ridiculous fear.  I acknowledge that.  I accept that.  And now I am letting it go.  Time to explore aquatic meats!  

My first home cooked seafood dish?  Linguine alle vongole.  Aside from fresh pesto, this clam pasta is my ride or die favorite.  When I check out a new Italian restaurant this dish is my go-to taste test.  For me, it's all about balancing the fishy flavor with citrus, spice, and the rich, sharpness of the white wine sauce.  And fresh clams!  My god, fresh clams only.  Canned clams are so...need I say more?

I decided to try out Mario Batali's recipe.  This pasta dish is super easy to prep and Batali's classic interpretation really hits the spot.  I picked up 25 fresh littleneck clams from my local Whole Foods.  The scariest part?  Scrubbing them in the sink.  My shellfish insecurity had me questioning how clean is clean enough.  But then I got over it, threw them in the pan, and watched them pop open in all their shelly-fishy-fish glory.  I am not a seafood master, by any measure.  But I am successful beginner.  Way to go me.

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