Seeing as I am no longer blogless, today is a day for luxury and hedonistic celebrations – and what could be more luxurious than a plate of linguine bejewelled with succulent pink crayfish tails. This is the recipe that I have been trying to post since 10 April and it’s just way too good not to share – complete with the pics in my ‘show and tell’ style of blogging. We spent the weekend before we left for Mauritius at the Wild Coast Sun and my nephew who lives in Port Edward produced a cooler box of these treasures of the sea for us when we left to come home. I am deleting my old post – sans photos, for the memory is way too painful for my liking. Ok – that is the last time I mention my blogout – PROMISE!!!
This recipe is as much a celebration of seasonality as it is of freshness. Trickyricky and I legged it back to Durbs with our box of live crayfish like bats out of hell. Personally, I prefer my crayfish wacked, au naturel, on the fire and served with lemon & garlic butter with a dash of paprika and rosemary but – not wanting to miss an opportunity to gather la famiglia around a pot of spaghetti – we went the pasta option. The crayfish go much further this way and food really is about getting together with friends and famiglia for a good nosh-up and a glass or two!
With the best of the best ultra-marathon runners hitting the road at 5.30am outside Durban City Hall on Sunday 29 May the Up Run is going to require some stamina and more. The Comrades Marathon is a punctuation mark in my year … it means that finally Durban will slip slowly into winter and we can finally begin to enjoy those winter dishes that stick to our ribs and warm our souls. The Comrades Marathon is a beautiful race – and I just love watching the busses of runners – the dressed up runners and those poor brave souls that crawl the last 5 meters to the finish line nigh comatose with exhaustion and cramps. Pasta is an excellent way to carbo-load this week so – this is Health Food!! The best of luck to the runners! I wonder if the ginger nuts will take it again…. Ahhh, I just love that race!
Spaghetti 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 – don’t waste those beautiful flavour filled shells – you can make it and freeze it in an ice tray to be used in another recipe later. Just pop them out of the ice tray when frozen into a Ziploc bag.
Crayfish Stock Recipe
To make the stock:
Soak the crayfish in cold water for 5 minutes and then 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 using some kitchen scissors. 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 ages reducing the liquids by boiling them away 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. Skim off the scum that forms every so often – this will give you a clearer stock.
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!
I can just vom when I get grit in my food!
Set aside for the pasta dish.
The Tomato Crayfish Sauce – Sugo All’Aragosta
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
1 tin of peeled tomatoes blitzed and 400g of fresh cherry tomatoes chopped in half
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 spaghetti per four people.
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 tomato passata or blitzed tinned tomatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes
Put on a tight fitting lid and bring to the boil with the lid on for about 3 minutes
to cook the fresh 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 which means that it will suck in some of the sauce and taste rediculously fantastic!
Use your pasta fork to lift the pasta out of the water, drain slighlty and pop it into your pan of sauce
Give it a good stir and 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!
Click on these photos for some more carbo-loading pasta recipes from my blog.
Taglietelle Alfredo – Click on the pic to be taken to the recipe.
Spaghetti Carbonara – Click on picture to be taken to the recipe.
Tip – if you don’t think that you have enough sauce for your pasta you can add a dash of cream or a large knob of butter to the pasta before adding your sauce – this will make it go further.