Fregola con Arselle (Cocciula Niedda)
Ristorante da Lucio, Marceddì di Terralba, Sardinia
1. The Fish
- common name: Carpet shell clams
- scientific name: Venerupis decussata
- characteristics: The grooved carpet shell lives burrowed in sand and silty mud. It is a lamellibranch bivalve mollusc that filters water through its two siphons (one in and the other out) catching organic matter (detritus) and phytoplankton as food.
The harvesting of Ruditapes decussatus mainly occurs in Spain and France. In Spain, early records of mollusc fishing and consumption from the 16th century are mainly about the flat oyster, and only rarely about clams, but they do mention the marketing of clams in Portugal and other places. Intensive fishing for clams began in 1926 and 1927. In 1935, clam fishing was regulated and the quantity of clams each fisherman was allowed to take during each low tide was 14 kg, and the season was closed from May to October. Despite the large clam harvests, their repopulation is rapid.
The shelf life of the grooved carpet shell is extremely long (several days out of water, depending on environmental conditions), making this species very desirable, and it obtains high prices in the market.
2. The Recipe
- 200 g fregola sarda (toasted semolina pasta with saffron)
- 400 g carpet shell clams, washed
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk of parsley
- 1 liter fish stock
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Boil the fregola sarda in slightly salted water for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, fry the garlic in olive oil. Now add the clams, pour a little boiling water from the cooking fregola sarda and cook over high heat in saucepan, until the shells open.
3. Discard the shells and put the flesh back into the pan alongwith any liquid from the cooking process. Add the chopped parsley and pepper to taste.
4. Add the drained fregola sarda into the pan. Then begin cooking it by adding a little fish broth from time to time for 15-20 minutes.
5. If you would like to serve the dish more creamy, like a risotto, you could add more broth.
6. Serve garnished with whole parsley leaves.