Updated: Dec 3, 2020
"Except for grilling, this is undoubtedly the best way to eat lobster."
Angela Hartnett (2007)
Well, you wouldn't argue with Angela Hartnett at the best of times, but after eating this recipe of hers, from her book "Cucina", you wouldn't be minded to anyway. This dish exemplifies why she is rightly recognised as the doyenne of Italian cuisine.
I would argue that the luxury product offered on the market stall is their tubs of picked lobster meat. If it weren't enough that lobsters caught off our south coast from Dorset down to Cornwall are arguably the best lobsters in the world, the pickers are clearly highly-skilled in extracting the meat in pleasingly large chunks so the lobster is enjoyed to its full. At first glance the tubs may seem a touch expensive (£15 for 150g at the time of writing), but when you consider that each tub contains the equivalent of about a 650-700g lobster and someone's done all the hard work for you, there really isn't much to think about. OK, you don't get the shells for your bisque but convenience has to come at the least of a modest cost.
You could easily use the meat from crab claws in this dish instead of the lobster. And the prawns available from the market stall in the winter would respond superbly to this treatment too. In fact, cooked shellfish meats from clams, cockles and mussels and even whelks would be very viable alternatives, such is the sympathetic and unimposing composition of ingredients for the 'sauce'.
Moreover, because the other ingredients in the recipe are so cheap, a little lobster goes a long way, so you get a very luxurious dish for quite a reasonable price. So... Buon appetito!
Angela Hartnett advocates the use of dried pasta for this dish as do the majority of Italian food writers that I have come across for any dish of this kind. And it's certainly my preference for anything as thin as or thinner than tagliatelle. Fresh pasta I find more interest in for the likes of pappardelle and lasagne.
The only thing to keep in mind for this one is to not allow the lobster meat to boil for very long while the wine is reducing as it will tend toward toughness. Otherwise this is a very simple and quick dish to make for something so exquisite.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
150g cooked lobster meat (the meat from a 650-700g lobster), cut into ½" chunks
150-180g dried spaghetti, according to appetite
Extra virgin olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 plum tomatoes, deseeded and cut into small dice
1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves (cut at the last minute)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Put the pasta on to cook in boiling salted water for time required for it to have an al dente finish.
Meanwhile, in a sauté or frying pan, sweat the spring onions, chilli and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes without colouring. Add the lobster meat and then the white wine and season with salt and pepper. Allow the wine to reduce down for about 2 minutes then add the tomato and a little more seasoning and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat.
When the pasta is cooked, using tongs, transfer the pasta to the pan containing the lobster. Stir everything together, check and adjust the seasoning and then stir in the herbs. Serve immediately drizzled with a little more olive oil and accompanied by a lemon wedge each.
8 June 2020: Post title to changed to "Spaghetti all'Astice" after being reliably corrected: Aragosta are crawfish or spiny lobsters - no claws! And you'd pay more for a Spaghetti all'Aragosta because of it!?!!
"Cucina", Angela Hartnett (2007), pp. 82: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Hartnetts-Cucina-Generations-Italian/dp/0091910277