This crab fat tagiatelle was the result of last night's dinner experiment. The instructions from around the table were to document the recipe as soon as possible, so I thought to share it with you guys as well, along with the highlights of the accompanying stream of consciousness during the experiment. (Feel free to skip right to the recipe below.)
The experiment came together because of a few free radicals floating around:
- My friend Melf (who loves crab so much she's been known to dress up as one... I kid you not) had made crab tom yum soup while we were on the road. I was dying to know what it would taste like, but there was no set date in sight to make it again. It's just not the kind of waiting I can handle
- Tom yum is normally a clear rather than muddy soup, so I didn't think to add the crab's roe and guts into the broth (although now it's sounding like that was the entire point). So I had a considerable bowl of the stuff left over from project crab tom yum.
- Food bloggers Chubby Hubby and Amy Ma had put forward a very intriguing blog post on crab fat linguine. I've been eating crabs -- roe guts and all, simply as part of any crab meal -- pretty much all my life, but had never heard of "crab fat" until that post. I was somewhere between intrigued and utterly mesmerised. I wanted to see what what kind of riff I could come up with
I didn't want us to feel gelat or sick from the richness of the dish after dinner (I just wasn't in that kind of mood yesterday). So I was thinking about how to lighten the taste of the dish. Raw cucumbers always taste lovely and refreshing. Would the combination work? I dunked a small cucumber piece into the bowl of crab roe and guts and tasted it. Damn! That's pretty good. (Note to self: Use it as dip sometime, at a party for a small group of friends I really like.) What if... I made cucumber "noodles", to add crunch in the mouth? I hate the smell and taste of cooked cucumbers though... so how to make sure it stays raw amid the tagiatelle?
Below are the results. If you've got a jar of crab fat ready to go (plain, rather than the well seasoned Filipino version in this case), this recipe should take no more than 30-40 minutes to make. And this means 30-40 mere mortal -- rather than Jamie Oliver -- minutes.
Above: Results of the crab tom yum experiment. Turns out I should have added the crab fat into the broth! Ah well. Practice practice...
A bowl of crab roe and guts scraped out from the shell and cavity of 3 cooked large brown crabs (these particular crabs were about 1kg each and had been boiled for 15 minutes)
6 little balls of tagiatelle (indicative size below)
1 cucumber, cut in half width-ways (so it looks like you have 2 short cucumbers)
1 small yellow onion
1/2 bulb garlic (6-8 cloves)
2-3 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1-2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock (use a mix of olive oil and water as alternative if needed)
Salt to taste
A couple of sprigs of fresh dill, roughly chopped
- Use a vegetable peeler and scrape down the sides of the cucumber so that you get cucumber ribbons. Snack on the watery seedy centre that's left at the end!
- Squeeze a bit of lemon juice and sprinkle some salt on the cucumber ribbons. Set aside
- Thinly slice the onion and garlic. Set aside
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a rolling boil
- Add 2 teaspoons salt and a glug of olive oil to the boiling water
- Add the tagiatelle, and cook on medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes depending on how al dente you like your noodles
- When cooked, empty and drain the tagiatelle into a colander
- Using the same pot, warm up a couple of glugs of olive oil on medium heat
- Add the onions and garlic, pepper and chilli flakes; fry until the onions are translucent
- Turn the stove heat down to as low as possible
- Add the tagiatelle
- Add the crab roe and guts
- Toss with tongs
- Add the chicken stock / oil+water a little at a time as needed; just to make sure the contents stay just a little bit slippery
- Turn off the stove
- Squeeze excess liquid from the cucumber ribbons and add to the pot
- Toss quickly with tongs until the tagiatelle and cucumber ribbons are evenly coated
- Add salt and pepper to taste (watch out, as the crab roe mix is inherently very rich and briny)
- Plate the pasta
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice to each plate
- Garnish with a pinch of dill
- Feel not-so-secretly smug about mother in law's obvious and vocal delight at the dish
Potential Adjustments for Next Time:
- As far as the actual eating experience goes, this tastes more like summer than autumn
- Excavate the crab fat either raw, or semi cooked (e.g. after cooking for ~7 minutes) to get a more runny consistency
- Try courgette ribbons instead of cucumber
- Samphire would be amazing for crunch, but would it be too salty?
- Add wakame, or chopped flat parsley?
How about you? Any suggestions?