Clam Spaghetti

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clam spaghetti

Use whatever “noodle” you want in this recipe for Clam Spaghetti – the result will have you saying “YUM – now that’s the best clam spaghetti!”

Clam Spaghetti


  • 20 to 24 fresh clams, scrubbed (some of the clams will more than likely not open, you must not eat those, so buy a few extra to make sure you have enough
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, divided it all depends on how much you love garlic, I love it a lot so I use a lot
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes with this particular recipe, I had some Italian peppers in the garden, so I chopped one of those up to use, but normally I use red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can chopped or minced clams we use the juice as well as the clams, so add the juice to the fumet or clam juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine, or white vermouth
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish fumet (fish stock)
  • 1 cup low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon cut into quarters
  • 8 ounces cooked pasta of your choice


Step 1

Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of the garlic with the butter. Set-aside.

Remove 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley and set aside.

Step 2

In a large skillet, heat the oil until just warm over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute for 2 - 3 minutes or until fragrant. Do not brown.

Add the red pepper flakes (if using fresh peppers, saute them with the garlic) along with the wine. Increase the heat and allow the wine to reduce by half.

Add the clam juice or fish fumet and chicken stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the fresh clams, cover the pan and allow the clams to open, checking and removing the clams from the pan as they open this will keep the clams from getting "chewy". After about 10 minutes, all the clams should be open, if not, remove those that have not opened.

Add the canned clams, along with the opened clams to the pan. Add the parsley. Simmer for about 2 - 3 minutes, or until hot. Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. I don't find I normally need to add either as the red pepper flakes gives it heat and the clams and clam juice are naturally salty

Step 3

Put the pasta into warmed bowls. Top with the clams then add the sauce over. Divide the garlic butter into each bowl along with a wedge of lemon. Top with remaining parsley and serve.

The making of Clam Spaghetti


clam spaghetti overhead shot in white bowl


Clam Spaghetti.  Linguini with Clam Sauce.  Call it what you want, it’s all good.

I like mine with Linguini.  My husband likes his with Angel Hair (Cappellini) pasta, and my son eats it any way he gets it.

It’s all about the clams and the sauce, the “noodles” are only in a supporting role with this dish.

I’m writing this recipe down as I sit in my hotel room in Seattle WA.  I spent yesterday at Pike’s Place Market buying some fresh fish, Alaskan King Salmon, Halibut, jumbo shrimp (that just sounds wrong), lobster tails, scallops…all so beautiful and fresh, and of course my mind turns to what I’m going to do with all of these beautiful ingredients when I get home.  With the halibut bones, I’m going to make another batch of Fish Fumet, which turns this clam spaghetti recipe from being only extraordinary to being...extra extraordinary.

When I made this the other night I had to use clam juice, which is good, and tasty and all, but the fish fumet makes it better.


Clam Spaghetti in a white bowl


As I said, it’s all about the clams, and the sauce.  I remember when I ordered this dish at what was then Sonny Bono ‘s Restaurant in Palm Springs. You remember him right?  He was a part of Sonny and Cher. They had a little notoriety in the day, I think Cher still has a bit of name recognition in the music world, Sonny will be known as the former mayor of Palm Springs and 44th District Congressman who died while skiing…he hit a tree.  Sad but true.

Anyway, back to the story, when I ordered this dish at his “signature” restaurant, I remember it came with three (that’s 3) whole clams, a bit of sauce and a lot of pasta.  It was also $21.00.  For THREE clams and a bunch of pasta.  Seriously?

So I make the clams and sauce the star.

Use whatever pasta makes you happy.

Another thing that makes my clam spaghetti unique is, I finish it with a garlic butter.  Just a bit, to give it the final push to wonderful unami.

Unami, that final “ahhhh” in your mouth.


clam spaghetti close up in bowl with juicy juice


Buying and Using Fresh Clams

Clams and mussels are very close to the same thing when it comes to cleaning, storing and using them. This article on cleaning mussels I wrote relates the same to clams.  I almost choked on my coffee the other day when I was reading an article in Food Network magazine that promoted soaking your clams in fresh water to cleanse them of grit, but not for more than a “few” hours.  NO!  If you are going to soak them, soak them in well-salted water, for no more than a few hours.

Otherwise, they will be dead clams, and you don’t want to cook dead clams.  You only want to eat live clams you cooked…to death.


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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Cristina on August 23, 2013

    Off to the fish mongrel to-morrow for clams. Did not know to take the clams out as they open! Great lesson. Thanks!

    • posted by Cristina on August 23, 2013

      Fish mongrel? Hahaha..hangover…lol


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