- 12 thin asparagus spears, trimmed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- One 750-milliliter bottle dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons Chinese black bean–garlic sauce
- 1 fresh red chile, seeded and minced
- 1 pound artisanal trofie or fusilli
- 4 dozen cockles, scrubbed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a work surface, let cool and cut into 1-inch lengths. Reserve the water for the pasta.
- In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallots and cook over moderately low heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and bay leaves and boil over high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the black beangarlic sauce and chile, cover and remove from the heat.
- Return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente; drain and return to the pot.
- Bring the black bean sauce to a boil. Add the cockles, cover and cook over high heat until they open, 2 minutes. Stir in the asparagus. Add the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and serve.
Vermentino, a white Italian grape, grows all over the seaside region of Liguria. Its natural minerality is good with shellfish dishes.