Only 6 ingredients are required to make this delicious clam pasta (I assume you'd already have oil, salt and pepper). It's also more economical to make this at home and you can add as many clams as you like!
Brush the clam shells to get rid of dirt and debris stuck on the shells. Discard any cracked, broken or damaged clams.
Give the clams a good rinse and transfer into a bowl. Cover with tap water and stir in 1½ teaspoons salt. Let the clams soak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (up to 8 hours) to expel the grit and dirt.
Remove the clams by hand into a strainer (see Note 3). Rinse the clams again and drain. The clams are ready to be cooked.
Cook the Pasta
Bring water to boil and season with salt (1½ teaspoon salt per 1 litre water). Add in spaghetti and cook until just shy of al dente (about 1-minute less than the timing stipulated on the packaging) (see Note 4).
Once there's 6 to 7 minutes left to the pasta cooking time, start cooking the clams (see Note 5).
Cook the Clams
First 3 minutes: Heat oil in a skillet over low heat. Add in garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden.
4th minute: Stir in the chili flakes (see Note 6), then pour in the wine. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
5-6th minute: Once the wine is boiling, add in the clams and shake the skillet so that the clams are spread out into an even layer. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes.
Toss Everything Together
7th minute: Remove the lid and give the clams a stir. More than 80% of the clams should be opened (i.e cooked) and the pasta should be ready by now. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and immediately add into the skillet. Toss well, then cover with the lid and cook for 1 minute more.
8th minute: Remove the lid and stir to mix everything together. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. If the pasta seems dry (which shouldn't be, really), toss in a bit of the reserved pasta water. Discard any unopened clams. Garnish with parsley or basil or chives and serve immediately.
There are many variety of clams out there. The clams I've used in the photos are known as Flower Clams here in Singapore.
Dry white wine is any wine that is not sweet. We like this pasta to have a bit of sauce to slurp up at the end, hence I've used a bit more wine. The amount of wine can be reduced to 125-165 ml (½ - ⅔ cup) if desired. Freeze leftover wine in 125 ml (½-cup quantities) for future use.
The dirt that the clams expelled will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Hence instead of just pouring the bowl of clams into a sieve (which will result in the dirt poured back onto the clams), the clams are removed by hand then rinsed.
Pasta doneness (firm or soft) is up to personal preference, so do adjust the timing accordingly. Just note that the pasta will be cooking for one additional minute with the clams.
I try to time the cooking of the pasta and the clams to be done at the same time so they can be tossed together quickly without having one to wait for the other. However, some variety of clams may take longer to cook, so you may have to experiment with the timing.
I stir in the chili flakes later as the chili flakes may burn. You can also use chili padi for a more fiery kick.