Steam 4 pounds of soft-shell clams, as above. Take the clams out of the shells, saving the juices and discarding the shells. Pour off the juices, leaving any sand in the bottom (as described above). Save 2 or more cups clam juice for this recipe, freezing the rest for another time.
The quantities for this recipe are not hard and fast; this serves 2 to 4 people. Add more or less of each ingredient to suit your mood, appetite and circumstances. Gently cooked, fennel is subtle and, with lemon, it makes a perfect accent for clams and pasta.
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ fennel bulb, quartered, cored and chopped
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups or more reserved clam juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
Reserved clams from 4 pounds steamers (see above)
Salt and pepper to taste
Linguine or other pasta
1. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan and lightly sauté the fennel, scallions and garlic, stirring; do not let them brown. Grate the lemon zest and reserve; squeeze the juice. Stir the clam and lemon juices and zest into the pan and cook 5 more minutes to intensify the flavors.
2. Meanwhile, cook and drain the pasta and divide it among serving plates. At the last minute, stir the reserved clams and parsley into the hot sauce. Taste carefully for balance of flavors and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the clam sauce over the pasta and serve.