Saffron pasta with clams

A simply superb pasta dish from Jun Tanaka combines garlic and chilli clams with ribbons of fresh tagliatelle
By Jun Tanaka
Saffron pasta with clams
  • Rating:
  • Effort: easy


For the pasta

  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinches saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water, left to cool
  • 250 g 00 pasta flour, plus extra for dusting

For the clams

  • fresh clams, rinsed thoroughly to remove any grit and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves wet garlic, (see Cooks note)
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 small glass (125ml) white wine
  • pinches saffron

Tips and Suggestions

wet garlic is the fresh new season garlic. It is less pungent than older, dried garlic, yet has a pleasant kick to it and a slight sweetness. If you cant get any, replace the 3 cloves of wet garlic with 2 cloves of old garlic.


1. For the pasta: mix the egg yolks and eggs together in a bowl then mix in the saffron water.

2. Tip the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. Pour the saffron egg mixture into the well. Use your hands or a small knife to slowly mix the flour and eggs together to form a smooth dough. It should be soft and elastic, but not sticky.

3. Roll out the pasta dough into a rough rectangle, dust it with a little flour and feed it through the widest setting of a pasta machine. Reduce the setting to the next, slightly thinner setting and roll again, dusting with a little extra flour as you go.

4. Repeat this process, each time reducing the setting so your pasta becomes thinner and thinner. Every other roll, fold your pasta in half and feed through the same setting twice.

5. Continue rolling until your pasta is the desired thickness, probably 1 or 2 settings up from the thinnest setting on your pasta machine.

6. To make the dough into tagliatelle, roll up your sheet of pasta like a swiss roll. Cut it into 1cm-thick slices then unroll the slices into long, thin strips. Alternatively you can use the cutter on your pasta machine, if it has one.

7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil ready to cook the tagliatelle.

7. For the clams: discard any clams that float to the top during soaking and any that remain open after being tapped (they should shut tightly). Also discard any clams with broken or cracked shells.

8. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the sliced garlic and chilli and fry for 1 minute, taking care not to let the garlic get too brown.

9. Tip in the clams and white wine, cover with a lid cook for 2-3 minutes or until the clams are open. Discard any clams that remain shut. Add a pinch of saffron and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

10. To cook the tagliatelle, tip the pasta into the pan of boiling salted water and boil for 2 minutes or until just cooked but retaining a slight bite (al dente).

11. Drain the pasta, tip it into the pan with the clams and cook for 1-2 minutes until the pasta and clams are well combined. Serve.

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