Spanish tomatoes are superb when used as a sauce. Here is the recipe for clams in a sauce laden with tomatoes and garlic. This dish is all about preparation. The actual cooking time for the clams is minimal. Drop them raw into the tomato sauce and they will open up and release their juices into the sauce within a minute or two.

Ingredients

  • Live shellfish, 2 kilos of clams, mussels, cockles, razor shells, queen scallops
  • Half a teaspoon of saffron (around 12 threads)
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kilo of ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon of pimentón (paprika)
  • 1 small glass of red wine (about 150 mils)
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper

Preparation

Rinse the shellfish and leave them to spit out their sand in a bucket of cold water overnight. Be sure to remove the little bag of intestines from the queen scallops. Toast the saffron in a dry pan for a minute or two until it releases its scent. Do not let it burn or it will be bitter. Drop it into a cup with a little boiling water. Leave to infuse for 15 minutes or so. Heat the oil in a roomy frying pan and fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft and golden. Do not let them brown.
Add the tomatoes and allow to bubble up, mashing them until they soften. Add the pimentón or paprika, the saffron with its soaking water and the wine. Bubble up again, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the sauce is thick and rich. Taste and season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Add the raw shellfish. Bubble up again, turn down the heat a little, cover loosely and leave the shells to open in the steam, shaking the pan every so often to allow the top layer to drop to the bottom. Take the pan off the heat as soon as all the shells open which should take between 4-6 minutes, depending on the size of the pan and the thickness of the shells.