This dish requires a few steps but is definitely worth the effort. Making shellfish oil captures the full flavour of the prawns and makes use of something that would generally be thrown away. Make the oil first, before the vongole, using every bit of the prawn shells including heads, legs and tails. The only bit to throw away is the black vein down the back of the prawns. Squid ink pasta can be bought from most good delis or health food shops.
200ml shellfish oil (see recipe, right)
½ red onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 chorizo, thinly sliced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1kg vongole clams
100ml white wine
8 large raw prawns, split down the back and deveined
10 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
1 bunch basil, leaves roughly torn
500g squid ink pasta, cooked
200ml olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 long red chilies, finely sliced, seeds and all
1 tbsp paprika
shells of 10 large prawns
salt and pepper
Put a large heavyset pot with a lid on a high heat. Add shellfish oil, red onion, garlic and chorizo and cook until the onions are soft and the chorizo is lightly fried.
Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until soft.
Add the vongole clams and white wine, then put the lid on for four minutes.
Brush the unpeeled split prawns with olive oil, season, grill on the barbecue for two minutes each side and set aside.
Add the peeled prawns to the vongole mix and cook for a further two minutes with the lid on or until all the clams are open.
Add the grilled prawns, basil and cooked squid ink pasta, give a good toss, season and serve with rocket and pear salad.
Put a large, heavy frying pan on a high heat and add the olive oil, red onion, garlic and chilies. Cook until the onions are soft then add the paprika and prawn shells.
Cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to very low for another 10 minutes, which helps infuse the oil with flavour.
Strain through a fine sieve, reserve the oil for the pasta and discard the rest.