by Mary Tillson and Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Suzanne Lo Coco says her father was as proprietary about his fish broth recipe as he was about the one for the family pizza dough, and she risks causing him to turn over in his grave if she reveals anything more than that he made the broth using a whole rock cod. Regardless of whether you make your own or buy a good prepared stock from your local fishmonger, be sure to simmer it with some saffron threads.
1½ pounds Manila clams, rinsed well
1 pound black mussels, rinsed well
12 extra-large jumbo scallops (or 2–3 per person), sliced ¼-inch thick
12 prawns (or 2–3 per person), peeled and deveined
1 cup fish broth (homemade or purchased) with 1 teaspoon saffron threads added
1 head garlic, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley (set aside 2 tablespoons for assembly)
¾ cup dry white wine (avoid chardonnay)
1½–2 whole lemons
½ cup water, or more as needed
½ cup crushed San Marzano or other pear-shaped tomatoes
3–4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sweet basil
1 pound linguine (At Lo Coco’s, we prefer the Italian De Cecco brand)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash chili flakes (optional)
This recipe requires about 45–60 minutes of cooking time, provided you have accomplished all the prep tasks such as cleaning the seafood. If you are making your own fish broth, add the saffron threads while it’s cooking. If using purchased stock, heat it with the saffron before using.
Finely chop three or four cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set it aside with 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley to add as you assemble the dish for serving. Finely slice the rest of the garlic and set aside for the sauce.
Start heating a large pot of water (salted to taste) for the pasta.
Place a deep 12-inch-diameter sauté pan over medium-high heat and add remaining olive oil and sliced garlic. Stir occasionally until garlic reaches a golden color. Add clams, mussels, and white wine. Squeeze the juice of 1 whole lemon into the pan. Add broth (with saffron) and water plus the crushed tomatoes, 2–3 tablespoons butter, remaining chopped parsley, and chopped sweet basil. Bring to a medium boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 10–12 minutes.
Five minutes after you have reduced the sauce to a simmer, drop linguine in the boiling salted water and cook until the pasta is al dente. (De Cecco linguine takes 10 to 12 minutes.)
When the sauce has simmered for 10–12 minutes, discard any clams or mussels that do not open or that open only slightly. Then add the scallops to the sauce and let cook for another 3 minutes. Add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes longer. Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into the finished sauce and stir.
When pasta is cooked, drain off the water and replace the pasta into the now-empty pot along with another teaspoon of butter, the reserved olive oil and chopped garlic mixture, and the reserved 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Ladle about ¾ cup sauce over the pasta and set pot over low heat, stirring until all the ingredients are integrated.
Portion the pasta into individual pasta bowls, adding even amounts of clams, mussels, scallops, and prawns to each bowl. Pour the remaining sauce evenly into each bowl and serve. Garnish each dish with a light sprinkle of chopped parsley and the optional chili flakes.