Six O’Clock Solution: Linguine vongole is a clam dinner in short order

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Check any fish or seafood you think of buying for its smell, says chef Eric Ripert, and accept only products with what he calls “that fresh, clean smell of the sea.”

This test is particularly important when shopping for shellfish, he writes in his informative new cookbook Seafood Simple (Appetite by Random House, $45), a collection of more than 80 of his recipes, including several for clams. Discard, he directs, “any funky ones,” meaning broken or open.

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“A fishy odour is never good,” the chef insists.

Today’s recipe could hardly be easier; the toughest part is lining up all the ingredients so you can whip up a clam dinner in short order. Ripert, French-born and trained, holds three Michelin stars at his legendary New York restaurant Le Bernardin. He’s a detail man, as his book reveals. He provides step-by-step shucking instructions for shellfish and an equally detailed page showing how to remove pin bones from fish with tweezers.

Linguine vongole

Serves 4

40 clams*

Fine sea salt

12 ounces (340 to 375 g) linguine

2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine

1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ teaspoon (2 mL) red pepper flakes

Juice of ½ lemon

*Cockles may be used.

Rinse clams, discarding any with broken or open shells.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat and cook linguine just until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

While pasta cooks, heat a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat and add oil. When oil is hot, cook garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, then add clams and wine.

Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and shake gently. Increase heat to medium-high and let clams steam until they open, 5 to 7 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer clams to a large bowl. Add the cooked linguine to the sauce left in the pan and toss to coat. Season with parsley, pepper flakes and lemon juice, tossing to distribute ingredients.

Return clams to the pan, taste, and adjust seasoning with sea salt, pepper flakes or lemon juice to taste.

Divide between four heated bowls, distributing clams evenly. Drizzle with a little oil and serve.

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