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Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress

Updated February 23, 2016
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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.

CostModerate

Easy

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

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, sharp

Type of Dishpasta

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

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