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What’s in a name? Seafood and chorizo pasta

March 8, 2007

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My husband was struggling with what to call this dish. It’s not a bouillabaisse, it’s not a stew. It’s not a paella, it’s not a ragout. (Hey, that totally rhymes.) Finally, after much head-scratching, he came up with “seafood and chorizo pasta.”

Well, I can’t reward him any points for originality/creativity… but I can give him mad props for deliciousness. Whatever you call this dish, it has tastiness in spades.

It’s hard to pinpoint what really seals the deal on a dinner this complex and satisfying. Could it be the rich tomato-based sauce coating the mounds of freshly made pasta? Perhaps it’s the smoky, spicy chorizo sausage hiding like treasures throughout? Maybe it’s the sweet and delicate shrimp morsels? Or could it be the fierce and seductive clams, lending their hint of the sea and their decorative shells?

Hmm… Obviously this is going to take more “research” on my part. My fork, please, darling.

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Click here to download the recipe for Seafood and Chorizo Pasta.

Backgrounder…
Wow, my wife has gotten rather Seussian in her intro. I think it was short only a Lorax, some green ham, and a drawing of an oddly colored anthropomorphized clam. Alas, let us not digress too far. This is about the food, not my favorite children’s books authors.

Which is just as well, because my childhood wouldn’t have included this dish. To be honest, until about a year ago, I’m not sure I would have even considered eating this dish. Until recently, I didn’t care for most seafood. I’m convinced it has more to do with growing up in the Midwest without access to good fish than the taste of seafood itself. Since living here, seafood is a regular staple.

On to the substance of the dish! Originally, I was inspired by Portuguese cooking. I had seen this style of dish using Linguica, a smoked Portuguese sausage. (I suspect this dish has a rightful, and beautiful, Portuguese moniker but, alas, I could not find that recipe.) When I first attempted this dish, then, I used linguica and tried to stick with flavors that were true (in my mind) to the region. The results were delicious, but the smoke flavor from the sausage I felt distracted. So using the same flavoring ideas, I built this recipe.

It turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve made of late. There is something about the seafood — the clams, in particular. They change the whole dish, giving it depth and character…. They bring the ocean in. I honestly think I could eat this once a week and still crave it.

Finally, for those who, like I was, are unfamiliar with how to deal with our little bivalve friend, here are a few tips on how to clean them once you get them home. And remember, they should be closed before you cook them, and open afterward. If either is not the case, pitch them.

Oh, and if anyone can find the name of the Portuguese dish that I’m citing, it would be very much appreciated.

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Seafood and Chorizo Pasta
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:
1 lb pasta
1 35 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 lb. chorizo (or linguica sausage)
1/2 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
10 clams
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
salt
black pepper/grains of paradise

Directions:
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. (It is important not to add too much; the sausages will give up a good deal of fat.) Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Once brown on both sides, remove the sausage from the pot and let rest.

2. Add the onions, bell peppers and garlic to the pot. Salt the vegetables liberally. Let cook over heat for 5 minutes, allowing the onions to turn translucent and the pepper to soften. Once the sausage has cooled, slice into bite-sized pieces, then add sausage, tomatoes, cilantro, bay leaf and wine. Cover and let cook for at least 15 minutes while the sauce develops.

4. While the sauce is cooking, add a pot to the stove and boil enough water to cook the pasta.

5. Once the sauce has cooked, add the sugar and season to your tastes. At this point, you can leave the sauce at a simmer in a holding pattern. The only step remaining is to cook the seafood — which will be quick. So, if you are cooking for guests or waiting for the family to gather, wait until right before you are ready to serve to add the shellfish. Once ready, bring the broth to a boil and add the clams and shrimp. Cover and return the heat to medium. Let cook for 10 minutes or until the clams open wide. If any fail to open, toss them.

6. Cook and strain the pasta while cooking the seafood. The pasta should be al dente. Once the clams have opened and cooked, add some of the tomato sauce to a pan along with the pasta. Toss together to coat the pasta. Plate the pasta, adding more of the sausage, clams and shrimp to each serving. Top with parmesan cheese and serve. Enjoy!

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14 comments

  1. YUMMY! Must try that one, as it has every single ingredient I love!

    I believe the Portuguese name is Caldereida, as decribed here: http://www.honestcuisine.com/archives/cooking/000668.html

    But I would stick to Seafood and Chorizo Stew :-)


  2. In the past I would have skipped over this recipe, but a few years ago I discovered chicken chourico (the portuguese version of chorizo, and made from chicken rather than pork), which has opened up a whole new world of possibilities — like your recipe, which looks completely delicious!


  3. It’s like I think about it, and then you make it! I
    bought some shrimp and took some of my homemade chorizo
    out of the freezer for dinner tonight, thinking I’d make
    some sort of pasta dish out of it and then I come here
    and found out you’ve made it!


  4. mmm i can totally imagine how well the clams and chorizo work well together. I can’t live with out seafood! or sausage! a large slice of crusty bread could be a good substitute for the pasta. okay, it must be dinner time!


  5. My wife would have LOVED that! Clams are one of the few seafoods that I don’t care for.

    This dish reminded me of a trip to Nero’s Italian in Jacksonville with the inlaws and my wife. All three of them got the same dish, which looked similar to this one. They all loved it but for the love of pete, Alexis reeked of garlic for days:)


  6. Wow… Yesterday I was totally trying to think what to do with some of my chorizo sausage… now I know!


  7. Just popped over to see what was new, and once again and I impressed, envious and by now drooling.

    A lot of midwesterners grow up not liking seafood. I wonder if it is because at that time not much was available to inlanders. Here on the Upper Great Lakes, that was not the case, but it was fresh water fish, mostly. Happily, you can stumble upon some decent seafood and fish from all over now, and often it is really fresh.


  8. Thanks for all the comments! This dish was scrumptious… and I’m not even a huge fan of bivalves. I like the flavors they sacrifice to the sauce, but I admit that I’ve been known to pass a shell or two to my husband when I’ve had my fill. Something about the chewy texture…

    As for seafood, as midwesterners, my family only ate it occassionally — but it was always the go-to choice at any fancy restaurant. I’m glad the husband has finally seen the fishy light! Only problem, now he tries to fork the fish I order off my plate. The nerve!


  9. I loooove seafood esp. clams…and your pasta looks divine…will have to try your recipe….


  10. Hi, i have made a free translation blog for english /portuguese.
    visit it if you need help :)


  11. Yhanks you3e6727666a3df252b98af7953f9e2412


  12. It is called cataplana and is such a treat to eat.


  13. is there something like a free translation service that we can use online ? :*-


  14. This blog is well.I would like to introduce this nice website to my friends.please



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