Friday, May 26, 2006

Shellfish Improv

Why yes, that is a cut-in-half soft shell crab perched atop the linguini with cockles.

I am powerless to resist.

See, I was at ShopRite restocking the larder, and I saw the crabs waving to me. But the case held cockles too, and I can't resist those either. In fact, the fish guy caught me ogling them. "I know you want some cockles," he said. "I saw the way you were looking at them." Was it that obvious?

So, without a clue as to what I would do with it all, I bought two crabs and a couple of pounds of cockles. We had pasta last night, but I was feeling the semolina pull once again, given the wonder of merging pasta with clams and their juice. And I knew Margy wouldn't mind two consecutive noodle nights.

For the crabs I tried something new for me and made a simple compound butter with some hot paprika and chipotle powder. I kept it subtle, as I didn't want any vivid images of the Southwest to compete with my Neapolitan clams, but I certainly didn't mind a bit of cross-pollination. I rubbed the softened butter on the crabs and broiled them, slipping the leftover butter into the clam sauce, which was bubbling away on the stove.

It was a shellfish match made in heaven. Why, oh why must the soft shell crab season be so painfully brief?

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