Crab linguine may be Italian in origin but it will always evoke for me the memory of the British seaside. Two great cooks inspired me to learn to make it: Charlie Taylor whipped it up in Dorset in 2010, and Granny has served it up more than once at Garde. (On one painful occasion your father cracked a tooth in half on a piece of crab shell.) The first time I cooked it myself was in 2013, in Cornwall, where we found crab meat surprisingly difficult to source but tracked some down in a warehouse outside Helston. Since then, the meal has featured three or four times a year on the weekly menu at home, alongside a mixed green salad to make a quick and easy supper.
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
a few scrapings of lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, sliced
100g brown crab meat
100g white crab meat (more if you can afford it)
60ml white wine
small squeeze of lemon
large handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the linguine. Give it a good stir and boil until the pasta is al dente – the lower end of the cooking time recommended on the pack. Stir well occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
While the pasta cooks, gently heat the olive oil with the chilli, garlic and lemon zest in a saucepan. Cook very gently until the mixture starts to sizzle, then turn up the heat and add the white wine. Simmer everything until the wine and olive oil come together, then take off the heat and add the brown crabmeat, mashing it into the olive oil to make a thick sauce.
When the pasta is ready, remove a cupful of the cooking water and drain the rest out through a colander. Return the pasta to the pan and add the oil, garlic & chilli crab mixture, along with the white crabmeat, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir everything together really well, adding a drop of the reserved pasta water if it’s starting to get claggy. Taste for seasoning: it will almost certainly benefit from a squeeze of lemon to give it a lift.