The weekend before we left for Mauritius – which was awesome and I have much to tell – We spent down on the South Coast of KZN to celebrate Maxi’s birthday. The Wild Coast – is the most beautiful scenic drive on a Friday afternoon. The moment one passes through buzzing little Amanzimtoti you are set free from city life and released into the verdant palm crusted jewel of KZN. Everywhere you look it’s green and lush. Pockets of Nguni cows saunter around on African time munching away at the abundant long grasses. Picanini’s line the road offering up baskets of plump butter Avo’s and young men proffer nets of either golf balls or fresh crayfish for sale. Anyone who has the balls to buy crayfish off the road – may just find themselves with their heads down the very same long drops that the poor creatures grew up in! Not a good idea at all!
As each little town passes by your stress melts away rendering you calm and relaxed for the weekend ahead. I just adore the South Coast and its very rural character. Africa is so amazingly beautiful and she never ceases to amaze her ardent admirers.
Max, who came through his ‘rhino-plastie’ (could resist the rhino bit) with flying colours, arrived on Saturday morning with his adoring young nurse/ girlfriend in attendance. Casey reminded me of a delicate little butterfly as she fluttered around him taking care of his every whim. Zia’s, Zio’s (aunts & uncles in Italian) and cuzzies and second cuzzies gathered to celebrate at his birthday dinner at the Wild Coast Sun on Saturday night where a great evening was had by all.
Cuzzie Giorgio organised some fresh crayfish for us to take home on Sunday hence todays post – Linguine All’Aragosta. Hubby insisted that only he could do justice to these pretty pink darlings so I was relegated to Sous Chef (apologies SueChef). There is nothing either Trickyricky or I like more than fresh “ANYTHING’ to turn into a buonissimo pasta sauce.
I am a firm believer that crayfish, being the King Crustacean of the sea, really doesn’t need to be mucked around with too much. This simple recipe is reliant upon the freshness of all of the ingredients and could be applied to prawns or langoustines as well. Neptune himself would give this one the thumbs up I am sure.
Linguine with Crayfish
As is the case with any fresh crustaceans – it would be criminal and a complete waste to throw the shells away without first squeezing every drop of sweet flavour out of them. To do this all one need do is make a stock from them. This is quick and easy and no fuss at all. Even if the recipe you are making does not call for stock – you can make it and freeze it in an ice tray to be used in another recipe later.
To make the stock:
Soak the crayfish in cold water and rinse thoroughly.
Separate the heads from the tails by twisting the head off and set the tails aside to be cleaned and cut for the pasta sauce.
Olive Oil – just enough to cover the bottom of your pot
1 large onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 stick of celery chopped
2 – 3Tbs of tomato paste
1 large cup of dry white wine
2 bay leaves
A few black peppercorns
Place the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot and gently fry the onion, carrot and celery until they are nice and soft. Don’t brown them. Add the tomato paste and fry for just a few minutes then turn the plate up to high and add the crayfish heads, pepper and bay leaves to the pot. I either use a potato masher to smash the heads a bit or cut the heads in half. This ensures that they release all of the flavour inside.
Add the wine – a large cup should do and reduce right down till all of the alcohol has gone then add water. Don’t cover the crayfish with water – add enough to come up nearly to the top otherwise you will have to spend time reducing it and you really don’t want to.
Bring to the boil for about 5 minutes and then reduce to a simmer and let the pot simmer away for about half an hour – enough time for the liquid to reduce and the flavours to condense.
If you have two sieves – place one inside the other and pour the stock through the sieves into a glass bowl. Do this at least twice – then you are sure not to have any sand or grit in the stock!
Set aside for the pasta dish.
100g or so of butter – a nice big knob of it
1 large onion finely chopped
2Tbs finely chopped garlic
1 chicken stock cube
2 chillies roughly chopped pips and all
500ml of tomato passata or 1 tin of peeled tomatoes blitzed
2 glasses of dry white wine
Leave the tails in their shells – clean out the vein and cut each tail into 3 to 4 chunks – depending on the size of the tails.
1 large handful of finely chopped parsley
This sauce is going to be ready in a flash so put a large pot of salted water with a tight fitting lid on to boil. As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil add one packet of linguine.
YOU MUST STIR THIS PASTA FREQUENTLY OR IT WILL STICK TOGETHER!!!
In a large frying pan
Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil and fry your onion until lightly brown – now add in the chicken stock cube, about 100g of butter, chilli, pepper and finely chopped garlic.
Add the crayfish tail chunks and fry for 1 minute
Add the dry white wine and make sure to cook all of the alcohol out.
Add the tomatoes
Add the Crayfish stock –
And the passata or blitzed tomatoes
Put on a tight fitting lid and bring to the boil with the lid on for about 3 minutes –
to cook the tomatoes
Remove the lid and reduce until the sauce has thickened slightly
The Linguine will be ready now – and this is one of those pasta dishes that really should be served Al Dente – or slightly hard because the pasta is going to continue to cook in your beautiful
Crayfish sauce and suck up some of it up and be extra delicious.
Use you pasta fork to lift the pasta out of the water and into your pan of sauce
Give it a good stir
Add the finely chopped parsley
Serve just like that – in the pot with a few loaves of Ciabatta or crusty Panini or a nice homemade loaf!
I tried to post this the day that I left for my holiday – but my picture uploader flatly refused to work!!! I get very nervous when this happens. The last time this happened I lost (and still don’t have back) the first year of my blogs pictures! This is such a fabulous recipe that I simply can’t leave it out though …. So I am posting it again and hopefully my pic uploader works …..
Ciao for Now