Posted by: acooksca | 04/03/2009

Crab Spaghettini

crab-sapaghettini-3aIn some countries of the world Rose wine is welcome on the table year round. I was discussing this with wine professional Jeannie Lacombe. She pointed out that dry French Rose is a wine that pairs beautifully with Dungeness crab. In the winter, during our limited local crab season, Jeannie makes this internationally-inspired recipe for sweet fresh crab accented by Thai chili sauce and Moroccan preserved lemons.

With so few ingredients, each is important. Start ahead by making the preserved lemons (see recipe for lemons below).

It takes five days for the lemons to melt into a rich, tangy ingredient that enlivens everything you add it to. A jar of preserved lemons stands ready in my refrigerator to add a burst of flavor to Caesar dressing, poached green vegetables or roasted chicken.

Siracha is the name for a generic Thai hot sauce, developed to accent fish dishes. Although the taste is dominated by Thai chilies, it has a balance of tart and sweet which beautifully accents fresh crab. In my area a familiar plastic bottle emblazoned with the white rooster of Huy Fong Foods, Inc. is found on restaurant tables and in many markets.

So chill the Rose and let this flavorful pasta warm a winter evening.

½ lb. Spaghettini (thin Spaghetti)
1 small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Siracha, or more to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
½ pound crab meat
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, lemon thyme or marjoram
2 tablespoons butter

Bring a large pot of slated water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until softened. Add the Siracha and lemons, stirring to coat the onions well. Gently stir in the other ingredients to warm. Toss with the pasta. Serve in heated bowls.

Serves two as a main dish.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

7 whole lemons (I prefer Meyer lemons)
½ cup plus ¼ cup kosher salt (if you use table salt reduce total amount by 1/3)
One large jar with lid

In simmering water blanch 5 whole lemons until the rinds are just soft (about 4 minutes for regular lemons, 2 minutes for Meyer lemons). Cool and cut each into 8 wedges, cutting away the white center pith and removing seeds. Toss with ½ cup kosher salt. Layer the lemons, remaining salt and the juice from the two unblanched lemons into the jar, topping off with the last of the salt and lemon juice. Place a piece of plastic wrap between the lemons and the jar lid. Let stand at room temperature 5 days to cure before using.

Preserved lemons can last for months refrigerated. They add a flavor boost to anything that benefits from lemon juice and salt: soups and stews, salad dressings, beans, pastas, steamed vegetables, marinades for chicken or lamb or tossed with roasted potatoes.
Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.



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