White Clam Sauce

Recipe for Spaghetti alle Vongole in Bianco (With White Clam Sauce)


Spaghetti alle vongole can be described as a clam pasta dish. Fresh clams and pasta are combined in a white wine and salty clam sauce to make this hearty Italian meal from Naples, Italy. Garlic, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of parsley gives added bite to this rich dish.


Clam selection, cleaning, and preparation

A few key details concerning the clams should be understood. To begin with, I tried this recipe with the three clam varieties that I could locate: cockles, Manila clams, and littlenecks. Littlenecks and manilas are smaller than cockles, but since we’re removing the majority of the shells, it’s not really a factor in this situation. In the finished dish, their flavours are fairly similar.

Next, I implore you to purge your clams, which helps get rid of any grit or sand that might be hiding in their shells. It’s simple to purge: Simply leave the clams in cold, salty water. Every 30 minutes, remove the clams, replace the water, and continue the process until there is no more sand or grit in the bowl’s bottom. That could happen following the first purge or the fourth. Simply said, it depends on the clams.

Also, throw away any open clams that won’t close when induced. That indicates that they are either already dead or extremely close to passing away and should be avoided.

The clams are then cooked along with the wine, oil, garlic, and chilli flakes until they open one at a time. To prevent overcooking the open clams while waiting for the others to catch up, I like to pull them out and place them in a bowl as soon as they open. Once the clams have cooled sufficiently to handle, remove the meat and discard the shells, reserving only a few shell-in clams per serving for garnish. I like to slice up the clam meat from larger clams, such as littlenecks, but smaller clams can be left whole.


Pasta can now be cooked in a pot or a big skillet of boiling water since the sauce is prepared for it. Lower water-to-pasta ratios in skillets provide starchier water, which will be useful when emulsifying the sauce later.But I advise you to salt your pasta water less because the clams can be salty.

White Clam Sauce
White Clam Sauce

Finishing the dish

When the pasta is finished cooking, add it to the skillet with the sauce and some of the starchy pasta water, and quickly swirl and toss everything together over high heat. The water and fats in the sauce combine to form a creamy coating for the noodles. At this stage, I occasionally feel compelled to add a pat of butter to the dish.

When everything is prepared, I add the clam meat and the garnish clams and swirl and toss them for a little period of time to heat them through. I then take the dish off the stove and add the parsley and a little fresh olive oil for taste.



  • Salt
  • 25kg fresh small clams, such as littlenecks, Manilas, or cockles (about 36 littlenecks or 48 Manilas or cockles)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 medium-sized cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) dry white wine
  • 450g dried spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
  • A handful minced fresh parsley leaves



  1. Add enough salt to a large basin of cold water to make it salty like the sea. Add the clams, then wait 30 minutes. When clams stop releasing sand into the water, remove them from the water and discard the purging water. If there is sand in the bottom of the bowl, rinse it out (usually 2 to 3 purging cycles). Any clams that have a gaping mouth that won’t close when prompted should be discarded.
  2. Combine oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a big skillet. For about 5 minutes, cook the garlic over medium heat until it is very faintly yellow. (Adjust heat as needed to maintain a gentle sizzle.)
  3. Add clams and white wine, cover, and raise heat to high. Cook until all clams have opened, around 5 minutes, inspecting approximately every 30 seconds and transferring clams as they open to a sizable heatproof bowl. Take the skillet from the stove.
  4. Pull the meat from the clams’ shells once they have cooled slightly; reserve a few shell-on clams for garnish with each serving. You can roughly cut clam meat if it is huge (such as from bigger littleneck clams).
  5. Cook pasta in a pot or large skillet filled with lightly salted water until it reaches the al dente stage (about 1 minute less than cooking time on package). Transfer the pasta to the white-wine sauce in the skillet, add a few tablespoons of the pasta boiling water, and simmer, turning and tossing often over high heat, until the sauce has decreased and is starting to form a creamy, emulsified coating on the noodles. Add clam flesh and whole clams, along with butter (if you’re using). Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until butter is melted and clams are heated through; if sauce over-reduces and gets dry or greasy, add additional pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If needed, salt the food. Get rid of the heat.
  6. Add parsley and a few drops of fresh olive oil. Serve immediately after transferring to bowls.

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