What Kind of Clams Are Perfect with Pasta?

When making pasta with clam sauce, what is the best type of clam to use? Hounds who prefer chopped clams in their sauce like to use the largest clams they can find. EricMM shucks the clams and chops coarsely, saving the juices to make the sauce, combining them with white wine, olive oil, and parsley. Add the chopped clams at the last minute, and remove the sauce from the heat as soon as they're cooked through. "If done that way, they are never tough," says EricMM.

Hounds who prefer their sauce with whole clams in the shell use small clams such as littlenecks or manilas. An alternative is to use cockles, which are even smaller, with shells about one inch across, says egit.

Rubee makes pasta with clam sauce by steaming littleneck or manila clams in white wine, shallots, garlic, chile flakes, and olive oil. Remove clams, strain liquid and return to pan, and add slightly underdone pasta to the pan to finish cooking and soak up the juices. Toss pasta with the clams in their shells and chopped parsley or basil, and sprinkle with lemon zest.

If you like red clam sauce, try CHOW's Spaghettini with San Marzano Red Clam Sauce, which uses littlenecks.

Discuss: Pasta Clams