Masterchef

In­spired by child­hood mem­o­ries of hunt­ing pipis in the sand, Elena Dug­gan cre­ates a sim­ple shell­fish dish with more than a hint of Ital­ian about it.

delicious - - CONTENTS -

Elena Dug­gan rein­vents a clas­sic.

I LOVED COL­LECT­ING buck­ets of pipis as a kid. Watch­ing for the lit­tle bub­bles to sur­face, then get­ting my hands down in the sand, deep enough and fast enough to grab one. We used them as bait for big­ger catch, over­look­ing their sweet sim­plic­ity.

Sim­i­larly as a kid, I thought of clams as vi­brantly painted dec­o­ra­tions dot­ting my beach walks, or as gi­ant alien-look­ing mon­sters spot­ted while div­ing on the Bar­rier Reef. They were def­i­nitely not some­thing I would have con­sid­ered cook­ing up for din­ner back then.

But times and tastes change, and now shell­fish is some­thing to be savoured, as in the recipe here. It’s sim­ple in its el­e­gance; a cel­e­bra­tion of the in­gre­di­ents with­out over­com­pli­cat­ing the process. For gluten lovers, use your favourite spaghetti or even make your own. I’ve used gluten-free here, but there are amaz­ing sea­weed spaghet­tis that work beau­ti­fully by com­ple­ment­ing the salty, sweet ocean flavours of the pipis.

And for­get the haters who in­sist you can’t have cheese with seafood. Think of lob­ster mor­nay, tuna bake or salmon and cream cheese. Boost the umami here with parme­san. Be as gen­er­ous as you de­sire; in this dish, it’s just an­other layer of de­li­cious­ness.

SPAGHETTI WITH PIPIS SERVES 4

1 gar­lic bulb, halved cross­ways 1/4 cup (60ml) ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, plus ex­tra to driz­zle 500g cherry toma­toes on the vine 6 an­chovy fil­lets in oil, drained 375g gluten-free spaghetti 1 onion, finely chopped 1 cup (250ml) prosecco (sub­sti­tute

dry sparkling wine) 1kg pipis or clams (von­gole), rinsed Shaved parme­san and flat-leaf pars­ley

leaves, to serve

Pre­heat the oven grill to medium.

Brush gar­lic with 1 tbs oil and place cut-side up on a bak­ing tray. Place un­der grill for 6-8 min­utes or un­til golden. Add toma­toes to tray and re­turn tray to grill, check­ing of­ten, for a fur­ther 3 min­utes or un­til toma­toes are blis­tered. Set aside. When gar­lic is cool enough to han­dle, squeeze flesh onto a chop­ping board with an­chovies. Finely chop both to­gether and, us­ing the back of the knife, mash to a paste. Trans­fer to a bowl and set aside.

Cook spaghetti ac­cord­ing to packet in­struc­tions and drain, re­serv­ing 1/ 2 cup (125ml) cook­ing liq­uid.

Mean­while, heat re­main­ing 2 tbs oil in a large heavy-based saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 3 min­utes or un­til onion has soft­ened but not coloured. Add an­chovy mix­ture and cook, stir­ring, for 2-3 min­utes or un­til start­ing to catch on the base of the pan. In­crease heat to high, add prosecco and bring to the boil. Cook, scrap­ing the bot­tom of the pan with a wooden spoon, for 3 min­utes or un­til re­duced by half. Add pipis and cover. Cook, shak­ing the pan oc­ca­sion­ally, for 3-4 min­utes or un­til pipis start to open. Add toma­toes, spaghetti and re­served cook­ing liq­uid, and toss for 2 min­utes or un­til well com­bined. Dis­card any pipis that re­main closed.

Trans­fer spaghetti mix­ture to a serv­ing plat­ter and driz­zle with ex­tra oil. Scat­ter with parme­san and pars­ley leaves, and serve im­me­di­ately.

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