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Spaghetti with mussels, clams and sardinian mullet or tuna bottarga (spaghetti con cozze, arselle e bottarga sarda di muggine o di tonno)

spaghetti with mussels, clams and bottarga
Photo by Alex Favali from Pexels

Spaghetti con cozze e arselle is a typical recipe of Sardinian seafaring
cuisine. In Cagliari, people used to buy fresh clams directly from the
Villaggio Pescatori (Fisherman Village), a district of small houses, on the
beach of Giorgino, where many fishermen dwelled. They used to
showcase, on their front door, large jars full of mussels filled in part with
sea water. Nowadays, Cagliaritani buy mussels and clams from the local
market (the most famous is the San Benedetto market), the supermarket or
from the fish shop. Warning: using frozen mussels and clams in this recipe
is considered a crime against humanity and is prohibited by the Geneva

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Cooking difficulty: easy

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

  • 18 ounce of italian spaghetti
  • 18 ounce of fresh mussels
  • 18 ounce of fresh clams
  • 4 teaspoon of grated sardinian mullet or tuna bottarga
    (the tuna bottarga has a stronger taste, the mullet roe is more delicate)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tuft of parsley
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • chili (optional)
  • powerful arms to wash mussel shells

buy sardinian mullet bottarga


Step 1

clean the mussels (mussels only, not the clams).
Start the cleaning process with the removal of the “bisso”, a small ‘beard’
that appears between the two shells (and which keeps the mussels
anchored to the rocks).
Now let’s move on to the scraping: using a hard scraping brush and
keeping the mussel preferably under running water, rub it vigorously to
remove the encrustations.

Step 2

The sautè.
Finely chop the garlic and parsley. In a large saute pan over medium-high
heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and warm up. Add the garlic, the parsley
and sauté it, stirring, for 1 minute, then turn off the stove. In a separate pan put the mussels, clams and, if you’re planning to burn your mouth, the chili. Cook until the mussels and clams
have opened (those that do not open should be thrown in the trash or be
saved for your mother-in- law), then turn off the stove and remove the
mussels and clams from the pan. Both mussels and clams: half of them
must be removed from the shell, the other half should be left with the shell.
Now in the pan you should have the water released from the mussels: we
will use it, filtered, to finish cooking the spaghetti.

Step 3

Cook spaghetti.
Take a large pot; fill it up to three quarters of water and bring to the boil.
When the water is boiling add the salt (be careful because the water from
the mussels, which we are going to use to finish up, is already salted on its
own). Add the spaghetti, immersing them completely in boiling water by
gently pushing them from the end (use a ladle as you might want to avoid
getting your hand boiled up). Stir the pasta to prevent the spaghetti from
sticking to each other.
Meanwhile, put the pan with the garlic and parsley  on the stove, add the mussels water and bring to the boil.
Drain the spaghetti halfway through the cooking time and transfer them to
the pan with the mussel water and finish cooking; when they are almost
cooked, add the mussels and the clams, both with and without shells, and
stir well.

Step 4

Put the spaghetti on the plates, making sure to distribute the mussels well.
Sprinkle with the bottarga, a teaspoon for each plate, and serve.


Step 5

Enjoy your spaghetti.

Wine recommendations: Terre Bianche, a dry white Torbato from Sella e
Mosca wineries. Serve at 53°F.




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