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This is one of the most popular starters on our menu. It combines the sweetness of fresh crab, the mysterious acidity of preserved lemons, the peppery bite of rocket and the pungency of hot red chilli. However, I am not just providing the recipe because it is so yummy. It is also extremely easy to make at home and almost all of the ingredients are exchangeable, so you have no excuse not to make your very own version.

The recipe can be very hands-on and complex, if you make your own pasta and pick the crabmeat yourself, or really simple if you buy your pasta and pre-packaged crabmeat. Blue swimmers are extremely popular eating crabs in Australia, especially in the south of the country, but you can use any local crabs you can get your hands on. Please make sure not to use frozen or tinned crabmeat, it just is not worth it. You would be much better off leaving it out entirely and going vegetarian for the night.

Once you grasp the basic theme of pasta tossed through extra virgin olive oil, lemon and chilli, you can substitute all sorts of herbs, seafood and flavourings, making it a 15-minute summery treat.

If you intend to make your own pasta, have a look at my pasta and how to roll out fresh pasta writeups

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh angel hair pasta, or use any long, slender pasta (spaghettini, linguine)
  • 1 hot red chilli (hot pepper), minced (seeds out if you don't like it hot)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, skin chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup rocket, chopped (use any leafy green or herb (try spinach, basil or parsley)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) fresh crabmeat (or try prawns (shrimp), or rock lobster)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 rocket leaves, extra
  • Method

    Place the oil, garlic and chilli in a small saucepan and gently bring to a low heat, so it sizzles just a bit. Remove from the heat. Once cool add the lemon juice.

    Transfer to a large mixing bowl with the rocket and half the crabmeat. Cook your pasta to al dente, for fresh pasta, this only takes 1 - 2 minutes, drain and add to the mixing bowl containing the crab and rocket. Toss thoroughly to combine, adding plenty of salt and pepper.

    Divide between 6 warm plates, scatter over the remaining crab, garnish with a rocket leaf and grind over more pepper.

    Serve with good fresh bread, drizzled with olive oil and a herbaceous young dry white wine. Try a riesling or sauvignon blanc.

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