This is a very simple and quick pasta dish, the kind where the sauce can be made in as much time as it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. The crab here is the star of the show and with only a handful of ingredients you need to use top quality fresh crab meat – the vacuum packed crab meat that you can buy in plastic tubs here in Australia won’t work well in this dish. Fresh crab meat can be expensive but it’s really worth the splurge for this pasta and you can readily purchase fresh picked and cleaned crab meat from most fish mongers. Unlike many Italian dishes this pasta sauce uses butter rather than olive oil, which gives a lovely richness and creaminess to the sauce that marries very well with the crab. As far as the pasta goes you can use normal linguine or spaghetti but I not only love how dramatic the glossy black strands look but the squid ink also adds wonderful umami flavour.
Ingredients – Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish
300g best quality fresh crab meat
5 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a garlic press or finely minced
1 large red chilli, seeded and finely diced
10 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
250g squid ink linguine – you can use normal linguine or spaghetti
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Whilst you’re waiting for the water to come to the boil, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. As the butter is melting add the garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt and cook stirring constantly until the butter is very aromatic and the garlic has softened and is just starting to colour. Monitor your heat to make sure that the garlic and butter doesn’t burn. At this point add the tomatoes along with another pinch of salt and using the back of a spoon press on the tomatoes until they are flattened, this will help release their juices. Cook for a few minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down a little.
When the water has come to the boil add the pasta and cook until al dente. I like the pasta to be just slightly underdone as it will keep cooking when you add it to the sauce. A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready add the crab to the sauce and gently stir it through to warm up. When the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet, taking with it some of the pasta cooking water which will help to thicken the sauce. Add the parsley to the pan and toss the pasta gently but throughly so as all the strands are coated in the butter garlic mixture and the crab is mixed through. If you feel the pasta is a little dry add a splash of the pasta water. Serve immediately.