Crab Pasta

My paternal grandfather was born in Tottenham, London, but raised in Australia. He had a pretty tough childhood, and would regularly literally have to catch his dinner.

He was a very neat and fastidious man. When I was very young, I sat with him at his dining table, in complete silence, while he showed me how to "clean a crab". He spread an old newspaper on the table and, with just a nutcracker and a pin, slowly and precisely removed every piece of flesh from the exoskeleton of the crab. I thought this was great, and I now perform the same procedure, but with much better tools.

 Crustacean destruction kit

Crustacean destruction kit

The recipe for this pasta sauce is simple, and requires the following ingredients:

One large crab, shallots, garlic, flat leaf parsley, dried chilli flakes, decent white wine, olive oil.

 Large British Crab: ask the fishmonger to prepare the crab, which means to remove the unpleasant inedible parts.

Large British Crab: ask the fishmonger to prepare the crab, which means to remove the unpleasant inedible parts.

The fun part of this recipe is using your tools to remove all the flesh from the crab's body armour. Don't discard any piece of the crab without attempting to extract the meat first; it's surprising how much there actually is, and it's a very relaxing and meditative process.

Then, the boring part of picking the flat leaves from the parsley stems. Once done, finely chop the parsley leaves, dice a couple of shallots and thinly slice the garlic. I use a lot of garlic, probably too much.

 Clockwise: White wine, linguine, dried chilli, garlic, olive oil, flat leaf parsley, shallots, white crab meat, dark crab meat

Clockwise: White wine, linguine, dried chilli, garlic, olive oil, flat leaf parsley, shallots, white crab meat, dark crab meat

To cook, lightly fry the crab meat, chilli and garlic in olive oil. When the shallots are looking translucent, add the white wine and allow the sauce to simmer. Add a handful of the chopped flat leaf parsley. Leave to simmer for a while, allowing the wine to reduce.

Fill your Le Pentole spaghetti set with fresh, cold water, and add a pinch of Maldon sea salt. Bring the water to boil and add linguine: about 10-12 minutes later, it should be al dente. Lift the basket from the pan of boiling water, remove the linguine and place it in the crab sauce, mix it well, and serve with another handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Drink the rest of the wine, and open another bottle. Buon appetito!

 Serve generous portions in big pasta bowls, with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Serve generous portions in big pasta bowls, with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.