August 6, 2016 — Birthday Party
‘This dish is one we would enjoy as a family round the table or al fresco enjoying the sun. As I write this we have 26° heat outside and this meal would be perfect. Fresh crap, fresh hake, red ripe tomatoes and a nice glass of white wine or some juice for the children. It’s a really simple Italian dish that’ll take no longer than an hour. Add a squeeze of lemon for the zesty flavour and don’t forget fresh bread!’
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100g white crab meat
300g – 400g hake fillet
300g – 400g linguine
1 white onion – chopped
1 red chilli (to taste) de-seeded and chopped
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 stick celery chopped
300g ripe tomato
2 bay leaves
100ml white wine
250ml chicken or fish stock
Small handful chopped parsley and half the amount of fresh basil
Zest and juice from one lemon plus more lemons to serve
Salt and pepper
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A great cheat for crab…
One of the subjects of conversation for all crab lovers is the price of white crab meat. My friend mentioned in the story below prided herself with having an ‘excellent source’.
Brown meat is considerably cheaper but does not provide the clean fresh taste in pasta that the white meat alone does. Extracting the meat from whole crabs will be cheaper but is very messy and time-consuming. White handpicked crab meat is very expensive – I’ve seen it sell at between £30 – £75 per kilo. However, a little crab goes a long way. I would say 100g – 125g would be sufficient per person. This makes it better value – but if you want to save some more of the costs I have found an excellent cheat.
Of all fish, hake is a little crab-like, in that it will break-up into a soft fibrous texture. At around £16/kilo, hake is certainly cheaper than crab. I combined hake with crab in the proportion of
Food and recipes are full of stories. Each story conveys a sense of place and helps keep our experiences and memories alive. Like the time the chef made a mistake with the chilli creating a dish too hot for anybody to eat and caused a heated debate with the waiter, or the Thanksgiving mother dropped the pumpkin pudding and scooped up the edible parts and justified the diminished portions by saying it was very rich, or the time the family enjoyed the taste of fully ripened Tuscan tomatoes made into a raw sauce on pici pasta – in Tuscany… These stories add to the things we collect and treasure in our lives – they define who we are and help us imagine our world.
Crab linguine is a trigger for these kind of memories. Memories of a dear Italian friend, now living abroad. We enjoyed the long drives in the country to visit her and her family. We always seemed to arrive at lunchtime – and crab linguine always seemed to be on the menu!
Lunch was served the way all Italians understand: without fuss, with great generosity and with natural flair. This aptitude with food would have stood our host in good stead, as her house was always full of visiting relatives and friends.
Needless to say, the crab linguine was delicious, very convivial – and utterly memorable.
Hake has a similar texture to crab. This recipe substitutes most of the crab with hake. (See story above.)
Prepare the pasta. Bring a large pan of water to the boil (at least 4 litres of water) add a good pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain reserving a mug of the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the pan with some of the water. Stir and then set aside until the sauce is ready.
Prepare the hake. Remove any bones from the fillet and remove the skin. Place in a frying pan with a lid along with 300ml water. Bring to a simmer and put on the lid – steam gently until the fish is just cooked. Remove from a pan and put on a plate to cool. Strain the cooking water and reduce to 200ml and use as stock for the sauce (or use chicken stock instead). When the hake is cool, break it up gently to look like crab meat.
Make the sauce. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 10 seconds and remove the skin, then slice into quarters and remove the seeds. In a large frying pan heat one tablespoon of olive oil and fry the onion, celery, chilli and pepper on a medium high heat. Cook until the onion starts to soften – about 8 minutes – then add the bay leaves and wine. Boil the wine for a minute and then add a pinch of salt and the stock. Put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add half the parsley and basil and the chopped tomato and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest, lemon, crab and hake and stir very gently. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Add the pasta and toss in the pan to evenly mix. Keep the pan on a low heat for a minute so the pasta absorbs some of the sauce – use the remaining cooking liquid if it seems too dry.
Serve. Tip onto a serving platter and garnish with the remaining herbs. Serve with lemon quarters and crusty bread and a green salad.
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
Try Dad’s loaded low-fat salsa quesadillas with The Laughing Cow Lightest x8 cheese.
An excellent way to turn a popular Italian slow food standard into an easy and quicker family classic.
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