Spring is in the air and the summer is coming soon. So it's about time to explore some of those light seafood dishes that are perfect for the summer dinners.
Let's start with a GREAT appetizer: guazzetto di cozze e vongole (light mussells and clams broth). This is ideal for any size gathering.
In Italy this dish is very popular in coast towns. You can either buy the goods from a local fish market or in many cases you can find them from vendors off the street. In "theory" it's not legal to go catch mussells yourself, but in my town there are ton of them and some people do round up a few extra $$$ by diving early in the morning. I tried a few times, but quickly realized that I was better at eating them than catching them.
In the States you can easily find both mussells and clams. I usually prefer to buy them from specialized fish markets or higher-end supermarkets (Wholefoods or Larry's). The reason is quite simple: you really don't want to mess up with the quality of these things. Added bonus: the price is pretty much the same.
Before moving to the recipe (very easy), couple of words on how to get the goods:
– Clams…you want them closed
– Mussells…you want them closed and intact
There is another reason to go for a specialized market. They know this stuff and they will discard the ones that are not good. You don't want to pay for mussells that are you going to throw away…do you?
Once you get them you need to prep them. This is what I do:
Clams: Put them on warm water with rock salt and leave them for few means (at least 15-20). The goals is to have them open them just a bit to have the sand comeout. You may want to go through this couple of times. Make sure you rinse them one more time before you put them in the pot.
Mussells: It would be great if you can get mussells already cleaned. If your provider will not clean them for you, than you'll have to do it. Budget for the time, it takes more than you may think (of course it depends on the quantity). When I clean mussell I make sure I do couple of things: clean all the "things" that are stuck to the surface and make sure that I remove the little green cord that comes out of it (sorry…but I don't know how these are called!)
OK…let's move to the official ingredients:
- One pound of clams
- One pound of mussells
- Three cloves of garlic
- One tomato
- a cup of white wine
- a bunch of italian parsley
- olive oil
- black pepper
- optional: some bread (the "regular" one, something like "pugliese")
Putting this together is really easy.
Take a decently sized pot. In the pot pour the olive oil (between 14 and 12 cup), the garlic (don't over chop it, I usually just make 4-5 pieces out of each clove), clams, mussells, tomatos (I remove the "soft" part and cut it in big chunks), ground pepper, wine and some chopped parsley.
Leave it cooking at medium hit for about 10mins. You will see the clams and the mussells opening up, after they are open just keep them for 2-3 minutes. You don't want them to overcook and become dry.
You are done! Just pour such goodness in a big serving plate, sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!
Bonus. Take the bread, slice it and toast it. Serve the bread on the side of the serving platter…that toasted bread with the clam/mussells broth tastes really good!
Couple of reference pictures here.
I leave with a final note…PLEASE do not use cream on this dish! 🙂