Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Linguine with Crab and Fennel

I'm repostng this because I finally got a good picture of it. The original post was March 24, and we've made this dish a couple of times since then. It's always delicious!

We found a copy of the second River Cafe cookbook on sale today, and were drooling over this recipe (which originally called for linguine, but we had spaghetti and it worked just fine) when we passed by our local fish market and saw fresh crabs in the window. It was fate! We bought the crabs pre-cooked and cracked and then pulled the meat out ourselves.

1 lb Spaghetti
Crab meat
1 Fennel bulb
1 Garlic clove
1 tbspFennel seeds
2 Dried chillies
1 Lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil

Remove the tough outer part and stalk of the fennel. Slice the bulb as finely as you can across the grain. Keep any of the green tops. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Crush the fennel seeds and crumble the chilli. Grate the zest of the lemon, and squeeze the juice.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a thick-bottomed pan, add the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli, and cook to soften. Add the crab, lemon juice and zest, and season. Stir through, just to heat up the crab.

Cook the linguine in boiling, salted water for five minutes, then add the fennel slices and cook together until al dente. Drain the pasta, keeping a little of the water, and add to the crab mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine, adding a little of the reserved water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Serve with olive oil.

If cooking crab yourself, buy them live and choose one or two large crabs - it will be much easier to pick the meat out from them than from many small ones. Cock crabs (males) have larger claws and a higher proportion of white meat. Spider crabs are very sweet and good for this recipe, though it takes longer to pick out the meat than from the common crab, as the meat-to-shell ratio is lower.

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