I won’t bother with the usual self indulgent preamble, let’s cut to the chase: crab isn’t necessarily the first ingredient you think of when planning a meal based on economy. I could tell what you were thinking.
It may not be quite as luxurious as its crustacean cousin, lobster, but this rusty-red armoured beast still yields flesh famed for its rich sweetness, enough to give you a beachy, holiday-esque sense of indulgence.
Now I’m not one who usually abides by the maxim ‘less is more’. You only have to see my shoe collection (drives hubby mad), or balk at my serving size of chocolate cake (did I mention I have a sweet tooth?) to understand that I don’t, by nature like to scrimp (being pennywise is a REAL discipline for me).
But for this recipe, I think I’ll acquiesce. You see, this dish is full of tasty components , and actually , the beauty of crab is that you don’t need a vast amount to inject a whole lotta flavour into a meal. Which is good news when you’re looking for an ultra refined plate at low cost. You really don’t need much of the flesh to create a sophisticated, dinner party worthy meal full of flavour and elegance. Just be sure to multiply the quantities accordingly if catering for more than two.
Of course, you could use some tinned crab (available at most supermarkets) but I got my crabmeat from, yep, you guessed it, my local market (have I mentioned how much I love that place?). Fresh crab is by far superior to the tinned stuff (though it’s handy when crab isn’t in season), and if you are restrained in the quantities you buy, relatively inexpensive. I bought a pot of mixed meat, already dressed, containing both the delicate,sweeter white flesh, and the less expensive (but incredibly flavoursome and rich) brown meat. 100g cost less than £3.
A perfect word about market shopping (or, fishmonger/butcher,if you don’t have a market on your doorstep like lucky old me): DON’T BE AFRAID. It’s easy to be intimidated by the face to face nature of the purchase, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. I found going with a friend the first few times really helped build up my confidence. Butchers and fishmongers aren’t there to catch you out; they just want to make a living. They’ll be happy to answer any questions, however silly they may seem. Their specialist knowledge is indispensable, and if you explain your budget and the kind of thing you want to cook, they can advise the best cut of meat, or type of fish for your needs.
As well as being elegantly simple, this dish is full of summery freshness. It’s best when made quickly, the pasta left slightly al dente, and served immediately. You need to make sure that you get the most flavour out of the chilli and garlic by not overcooking them, and add the tomatoes right at the end to maintain their vibrant sweetness and avoid mushy wateriness. Basil is my herb of choice (mainly because I had it to hand) but this dish would also work just as well with parsley. Don’t neglect the generous drizzle of peppery olive oil to dress the plate, it really cuts through the intensity of the crab.
So enjoy impressing your significant other, or a bunch of friends with this simple but oh-so-elegant crab dish.
It’d be just claw-ful to miss out…
Super sophisticated crab linguine (serves 2)
- 200g Linguine or spaghetti
- 1 fat clove garlic
- 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 100g fresh crab, both white and brown meat
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 spring onion,finely chopped
- 100g cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. Cook the linguine until a little bite remains, then drain and cover, reserving a little of the cooking water.
2. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. A a splash of olive oil, followed by the garlic and chilli, and fry gently for 2 minutes, being careful not to let it catch.
3. Add the lemon zest and juice and bubble away for approx 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and heat through briefly
4. Add the cooked, drained linguine to the crab together with a little of the pasta water. Add the basil and spring onion and toss through until the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce.
5. Divide between two pasta bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.