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Spaghetti with Spicy Scungilli Sauce

(Serves 4)
Spaghetti with Spicy Scungilli Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Large dash of red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 anchovy fillets, chopped and mashed
3 cups tomato puree
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice or 1 cup broth from scungilli can
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 (29-ounce can) sliced scungilli
12 to 16 ounces spaghetti or other thin ribbon pasta
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and anchovies.  Saute until the garlic just begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomato puree, 1/2 cup of clam juice or scungilli broth, oregano, salt and pepper.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, covered with the lid ajar, for 15 minutes.  Then add the drained scungilli and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Add more clam juice/scungilli broth if the sauce is too thick and allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for the recommended time. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a serving bowl.  Add the sauce to the pasta and gently toss to combine the sauce with the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and top with chopped parsley, if desired.   
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Scungilli (conch) has a pleasant briny flavor and a dense meaty texture.  It can usually be purchased frozen or in cans. This recipe uses canned scungilli.  The pieces are generally more than bite-size, so you can choose to leave them that way or cut them into smaller pieces.  The scungilli is added to the sauce near the end of the cooking time because you don't need to cook them too long. Scungilli freezes well too. If you don't use the whole can of scungilli, you can freeze the remainder with a little of the liquid from the can.
What is Scungilli?
Scungilli is the Italian word for a conch or whelk, which are essentially large marine snails. The muscle, or part that is eaten, resembles a foot.  Their meat is dense, chewy, and quite sweet.  Larger Italian grocery stores may stock frozen scungilli but it is more commonly sold in cans.
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