Ideas in Food vs. Linguine alle Vongole: Part 2

Editor's Note: Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, the great minds behind the influential blog Ideas in Food, and the cookbooks Ideas in Food and Maximum Flavor, will be sharing their wisdom and clever cooking ideas here on Serious Eats, as they reinvent classic dishes with the aim of getting the most flavor out of them.

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Linguine with clam sauce gets a dramatic makeover with Korean flavors [Photographs: Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot]

Yesterday, we introduced you to our reinvention of linguine with clam sauce, and shared the first few components of our dish: cryo-shucked clams, smoked Korean rice cakes, and gochujang ghee. When making the recipe, all three of those can be started a day in advance. Today, we'll show you the remaining components—the Korean clam sauce and crispy fried onion topping—along with an explanation of how to bring it all together into a finished dish.

Korean Clam Sauce

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When we started thinking about this clam sauce, the first thing that came to mind was everything bagels. The combination of fried onions and garlic, speckled with sesame seeds and salt, is addictive and delicious. Imagining those crunchy seasonings—perhaps accented with some crispy nori—on top of a bowl of pasta made us eager to get into the kitchen and test out the idea. When we went shopping we discovered that H-Mart, our local Koran market, had great fried onions and other alliums that we could add to the sauce. Frying deepens and concentrates the alliums' flavor, and gives them a wonderful crispy texture at the same time. We added some kimchi and the gochujang ghee to spice things up, and a delicious new Korean-inspired clam sauce was born.

Crispy Fried Onion Topping

We love the contrast of crunchy and chewy. Crunchy toppings added just before serving a dish are the perfect vehicle for adding both texture and flavor. In this case, we reserved some of the fried onions we had used in the clam sauce and added lemon zest for brightness. It reinforces the flavors in the sauce by using them in a different way, and adds a great crunchy component to the finished dish.

Here's a look at all three of the fried alliums that we used—these types of fried vegetables are becoming more and more widely available, so you shouldn't have much trouble finding them at Asian markets, specialty food stores, or online.

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Finishing the Dish

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To finish the dish, we start by frying the smoked rice cakes in the gochujang ghee until they're browned and crispy.

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Once the rice cakes are crispy, we add garlic chives and cook them until they're tender.

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We also warm up the clam sauce with some chopped kim chi, to give it that wonderful tangy, fermented punch. The sauce is then poured into the same pot as the rice cakes and garlic chives, and we let it all cook together for a few minutes.

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We spoon it into bowls, and top it with the crispy, lemon zesty fried onion topping and a fresh grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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