|Fishing boats at Mondello (close to Palermo)
In the festive season most cooks feel like cooking something different and seafood is often cooked for friends when they come for a meal.
Lobsters are very popular around Christmas time. Many think that they are buying crayfish for Christmas (because that is how they are labelled), but they are actually buying lobsters – lobsters are sea creatures and crayfish live in freshwater.
I often buy spiders (the legs) – they can be quite meaty and very suitable for this pasta dish that requires cooked lobster. Although this recipe is especially suited lobster, other crustaceans can be used, including crabs. When I lived in South Australia I was spoiled with Blue Swimmer crabs. You can buy them in Victoria, but they are not local. If you prefer local crabs, Sand crabs are caught around Portsea, Rye or Sorrento.
I ate this pasta (see photo) in a beachfront restaurant in Mondello, a seaside town near Palermo, Sicily. It is made with their local crab. In my recipe I have added parsley and basil – I find it difficult to cook without herbs.
cooked crayfish meat or crab meat, 600-800 g
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
red tomatoes, 500g, peeled and chopped
garlic, 5 cloves, chopped finely
parsley, 1 cup cut very finely
basil, 7-10 leaves (I like to use several small sprigs with the leaves attached)
salt and freshly ground pepper or chili flakes to taste
Make a tomato salsa with ¼ cup oil, 2 cloves of garlic, the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and allow the sauce to reduce – uncovered – to a cream like consistency. Take off the heat.
Cook the crabs lightly (enough to kill them).
Remove as much crab or crayfish meat as you can, but leave some of the entire legs for decoration.
Cook the pasta and while the pasta is cooking:
Heat the rest of the extra virgin olive oil, add the other cloves of garlic and sauté the crab or crayfish meat for a few minutes. Add the parsley and mix it through the hot mixture.
Add this to the hot salsa (you may need to reheat this) and toss it through.
Combine the hot, drained pasta with the sauce and mix well.
Add basil and present to the table.