It’s all too easy to forget about shellfish, but it makes one of the easiest and most glamorous instant suppers imaginable. Small and delicately flavoured by the sea, clams have their own special appeal, good quality ones are often to be found in the freezer section of supermarkets. Don’t discount mussels, though, fresh ones are more accessible still, and local to our shores. The key is to wash them thoroughly, always under cold running water, pulling their beards off as you go. If they don’t close during this process, discard them. Once cooked, healthy ones will open, any that remain closed should be discarded too
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, very finely sliced
1.5kg clams or mussels, or a mixture
150ml white wine
Handful flat-leafed parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti. Meanwhile, in a large, lidded saucepan, warm the olive oil and butter and fry the garlic and chilli together for a couple of minutes. Add the shellfish and wine, cover and allow to steam for about 3 minutes, shaking from time to time to prevent sticking.
Drain the spaghetti when it is cooked and toss with the shellfish, sprinkling over the parsley and seasoning to taste. I like Parmesan with it, though purists will shudder.