Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paccheri alla polpa di granchio

While visiting London a week ago, I took the opportunity to take some Italian ingredients back to Singapore. I managed to get hold of these wonderful "Pomodorinmi del Piennolo del Vesuvio DOP", preserved by San Nicola Dei Miri, Gragnano. This a very homemade production from an area where some of the best tomatoes can be harvested. It is really not an industrial type of processing, so much so that each jar is numbered by hand.

The Pomodorini del Piennolo are one of the best varieties of Italian tomatoes, originating from the
National Park of Vesuvio. These famous Vesuvian tomatoes called "del Piennolo" are grown on small pieces of land 150-450mt above the sea level. The volcanic terroir and plenty of sun benefit the flavour of these tomatoes. They have a sweet and lightly sour flavour, due to the particular concentration of sugars and minerals derived from the terroir where they are grown. They are particularly good when rapidly cooked, lightly tossed with the sauce and then served with pasta. This is exactly what cannot be done with tomatoes bought in Singapore, which require long cooking times before any flavour is released.

This was the perfect opportunity to pair a batch of Paccheri di Gragnano I have been storing for some time, with these beautiful tomatoes, grown form a nearby area.

I used a few simple ingredients:
  • 8 pomodorini del Piennolo DOP
  • 200g crab meat (defrosted)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (squashed)
  • half glass of dry white wine
  • 150ml lobster stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 large leaves of basil
  • 180g Paccheri di Gragnano
I decided to use lobster stock purely because I had it in my freezer. It's a leftover from a lunch with friends we had 2-3 weeks ago, and this is surely not an ingredient that goes wasted. You can of course use other stock like fish or even better shellfish stock that you can make on the fly in 15 minutes.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and add the squashed garlic and bay leaves (I also added some chilli flakes for a bit of heat). Once the garlic is golden, carefully add the crab meat, lightly toss it for 30 seconds, then add the white wine and let evaporate. When the crab meat is cooked, remove it from the pan together with the garlic, which you will discard. Set the crab meat aside in a small bowl. In the meantime, you will have boiled and salted some water for the pasta. Put the Paccheri in the boiling water, as they will need about 12 minutes to cook.
Add half of the stock to the sauce and reduce, then add a couple of the tomatoes and the rest of the stock and break them into a pulp to thicken the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Finally, add some of the basil leaves together with the remaining tomatoes, salt as needed and lightly toss for a couple of minutes. Add the crab meat and the remaining basil, followed by the Paccheri pasta when ready, and sauteƩ all together for a few seconds. Top with a dash of light extra virgin olive oil and serve with a fresh basil leaf.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

that looks absolutely delicious! i was cooking crab pasta last week and didn't reduce my stock, so thanks for the tip! and the lovely mouth-watering pics!!

M.E said...

this looks so delicious! thanks for sharing!

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