Tajarin Pasta with Clams and Bonito Flakes
Scott Conant's Pasta Tajarin with Clams
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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This is a simple yet deeply flavored dish. The clams and the bonito create a briny and smoky combination that is just a winner.

Swap option: You can use just olive oil and garlic to make the sauce. You'll just have to use more of the pasta cooking liquid to create a nice emulsion.


  • Sauce (makes about 1/2 cup)

    • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1 sprig thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 fresh bay leaf
    • 1 anchovy, rinsed
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
    • Salt, as needed
  • Pasta

    • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1 pinch crush red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound dried tajarin pasta or other long pasta
    • 3 pounds cockles, rinsed and purged thoroughly to remove sand and grit
    • 1/4 cup pasta water
    • 3 ounces sauce (recipe above)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • 2 cups bonito flakes


For the sauce:

1. In a 2 quart sauce pot add shallots, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, anchovy and a splash of olive oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the shallots are slightly tender.

2. Add white wine and cook till reduced to almost dry about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream and reduce for 2 minutes.

3. Whisk in butter to emulsify. Strain the sauce and season with salt to taste.

For the pasta:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season water with salt, making sure the water tastes like broth (you will use some of this water to cook the clams as well).

2. Add garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and olive oil to a pot and cook over medium heat until the garlic slightly browns on the edges.

3. Add cockles, pasta water and sauce. Cover with lid and steam clams just until they open about 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove clams from pan and take either all or a few of the clam meat out of their shell, depending on how you'd like to serve them. Reserve all the liquid the clams let out. We will use this to finish cooking the pasta.

5. Drop pasta into the boiling water. Cook to al dente according to package directions.

6. Remove pasta and add into the pan of clam liquid. Finish cooking the pasta in the clam liquid, adding additional pasta water if needed, and extra virgin olive oil. Toss to emulsify sauce with the starches from the pasta.

7. Add parsley and reserved clams and cook to warm the clams through.

8. Divide pasta amongst bowls, sprinkle each bowl with bonito flakes while hot and serve immediately.

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Make Italian pasta with clams: Scott Conant shows how

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