A friend who’s a marine biologist tells me that the number of crabs available is due to the lack of big cod and haddock, which hoover up infant crustaceans. They are remarkably cheap. A big live crab weighing about 3kg will feed six people easily and cost in the region of £20 – not a huge sum for such a noble creature.
Always buy crab live, and pre-order from your fishmonger. The best way to cook the beast is to place it in cold water and steadily bring it to the boil. This will prevent it from throwing its claws when it hits boiling water. There is no nice way to kill a creature like this, so harden your heart and get on with it!
Once boiled for 15 minutes or so, run the crab under cold water to stop the cooking process. Now you can prepare it yourself or take it back to the fishmonger and ask him to do it. The DIY method is to break open the claws and remove the white meat (every scrap), then prise open the shell and remove the dead man’s fingers (lungs/gills). Scrape out the brown gooey meat and reserve for toast with lemon juice, then gradually pick out the white meat until you have a pile of meat and your kitchen is covered in bits of shell and crab juice. The crab and linguini recipe is delicious, quick, simple and brilliantly summery.
Linguini with Brixham crab, cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli
Handful cooking salt
250g (9oz) really good linguini
2 punnets cherry tomatoes – very ripe
4 tbsp really good extra virgin olive oil
¼ red chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
200g (7oz) white crabmeat
2 handfuls young and peppery rocket
Salt and pepper
Start by boiling a really big pot of water for the pasta. Add a handful of salt and the linguini and cook the pasta for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them into a big pan with the olive oil and quarter of a chopped chilli. Simmer them together for five minutes, then grate the garlic into the mix. Now squash the tomatoes lightly to release their juices and add the lemon juice. Add the crabmeat and the rocket leaves and mix. Take the pasta straight from the pan and mix it with the tomatoes and crab. Season and serve immediately (for God’s sake, no parmesan) with lots of very cold white wine.
Other seafood recipes and courses