Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress
You know, I’d eaten this a couple of times and made it myself (throwing in handfuls of peppery watercress as I did so) a few more before I realized it was, give or take, London’s River Cafe’s recipe—by which I mean to say that although the amounts and full list of ingredients vary, it is an English seaside version of their fabulous original. I suppose that’s how you know something’s become a classic: it just seeps its way into the culinary language.
Crab is, I think, hugely underrated—so much better than most lobster, and much cheaper. You can use frozen crabmeat for this, but it’s best to get a fishmonger to cook and pick out the meat for you.
Don’t let the fact that a pestle and mortar is indicated put you off: this is fabulously easy to make.
Serves6 as a starter; 4 as a main course.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Courseappetizer, hot appetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationappetizer, hot appetizer, main course
Equipmentmortar and pestle
Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, sharp
Type of Dishpasta
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 scant tablespoon Maldon or other sea salt
- 1 large red chilli
- 2 pounds 11 ounces undressed crab, to give you 7 ounces white meat and 4 ounces darker meat
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 pound linguine
- Handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Handful watercress leaves, roughly torn
Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
In a large pestle and mortar pulverize the peeled garlic cloves with the salt, so that it makes a smooth paste. Then add the chopped and seeded chilli and crush again until you have a gloriously red-tinged mixture. Tip in the crabmeat, breaking it up gently with a fork, and pour in the oil. Zest the lemon into the mortar and then add the juice.
Using a fork, beat well to mix, and then you are ready to cook your pasta. So do so, and then drain the pasta and tip into a warmed serving bowl. Immediately pour over the crab sauce and toss the pasta about in it, then throw in the parsley and watercress and toss again.
2003 Nigella Lawson