If you ever find yourself in Greece and see ‘astakomakaronada’ (Lobster spaghetti) on the menu of a seaside taverna do yourselves a favour and order it. If there’s a particularly good version at a certain spot there will plenty of word-of-mouth buzz about it. I had a chance to savour this dish in Alonissos once upon a holiday and I still daydream about it. It is a deceptively simple dish, with very few ingredients, that somehow tastes absolutely divine.
I have wanted to recreate the dish at home for years but I must admit I haven’t ever splashed out on fresh lobster – it’s not just the price that puts me off but also the thought of preparing it. Something for my cooking bucket list I guess! Instead of fresh lobster I decided to use cooked frozen crab claws which I found at Sainsbury’s to create a similar recipe. These crab claws come scored for easy cracking but you will still need to get your hand dirty when eating this – part of the charm, trust me!
I used a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes here, but this dish would work with any type of sweet, ripe tomatoes. Avoid using canned tomatoes – the taste is completely different and since this recipe has so very few ingredients use the best fresh tomatoes you can find. I served this with my favourite Lindeman’s Bin 35 Rosé and I have to say it was an amazing match. This was a very messy meal but one of the most enjoyable – making it again tomorrow!
I used my new Scanpan Wok to make this dish – my first ever proper, heavy duty, wok. Though it doesn’t come cheap the quality is excellent – it heats up super quick, it is non-stick, easy to clean, and I have been using it for anything from stir fries to frying doughnuts. It is slightly heavy to lift one-handed though for a weakling like myself. You can see it in action in the video for the Chilli Prawn Noodles.
- 400g | 14oz linguine
- 380g | 13.4oz cooked crab claws, defrosted if frozen
- 600g | 21oz fresh tomatoes, chopped small
- 1 small glass vermouth or white wine (about 140ml | 5fl oz)
- 3 banana shallots, very finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (I used a garlic press)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet tomatoes are)
- pinch chilli flakes
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
- squeeze of ½ lemon
- plenty of freshly grated sea salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter and virgin olive oil to fry
- Prepare the linguine according to packet instructions – cooked till al dente. Rinse and set aside.
- Add the butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the wok and heat until the butter melts and starts to foam.
- Add the garlic, finely chopped shallots and sugar and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat for 4-5 Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, vermouth, lemon juice, chilli flakes and ground cinnamon. Increase the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced.
- Add the crab claws and continue cooking for another 5 minutes – since the crab claws are already cooked you are heating them through. Check the seasoning and add plenty of sea salt and pepper.
- Remove the crab and set aside. Add the linguine to the wok and stir until it is coated in the sauce. Stir in the parsley and divide between the plates, topping with the crab claws.
- To crack the claws, hit them with the back of a large knife blade (do not use the blade itself you might ruin it). Use your fingers to remove the sweet crab meat and dig in!