Saturday, March 25, 2006

Don't Slam the Big Clams

In southern Italy, clams can be as small as a pinkie nail. You put in a lot of work to get yourself fed, but the tender meat and briny nectar make it worth your while.

After spending some time among such precious bivalves years ago, I tried to hold out for the little guys back at home. At the seafood counter I would glance right past the cherrystones and littlenecks in search of much smaller cockles, which are the closest thing to those Italian beauties that I can find. If there were no cockles to be had, I bought something else entirely.

And then one day I said what the heck and brought home some littlenecks.

Not only do littlenecks require less cleaning (and eating) time than cockles, they can be tender and tasty. Tonight I got 18 of them for Margy and me. The fish guy was cool enough to allow for the inevitable duds, and he threw in a few extra.

I made a basic white clam sauce, starting it by sautéing onion, garlic, parsley, and a couple of anchovies in olive oil and sprucing it up just a little with a few diced canned plum tomatoes. I'll still look out for cockles, but it's good to know there's another worthy mollusk in town.

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