Spaghetti with Lobster, Chiles, and Mint
Lots of love, little cooking time
This week Esquire published Eat Like A Man: The Only Cookbook A Man Will Ever Need. Try out this recipe from Dave Pasternack, the author and Executive Chef at NYC's ESCA.
I've been a fisherman my whole life—started with my father when I was about five, in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn, and I still catch some of what’s served at Esca. But I also get everything from everywhere: Alaskan salmon, abalone from British Columbia, John Dory from New Zealand. I don’t have a preconceived notion of what I’m going to do with each fish; the preparation and ingredients are based on the state the fish is in—the seasonal differences, which affect fishing just as much as farming.
Take lobster: People like it in the summer, but it’s actually better during the winter, when colder water and harder shells mean more meat for your money. In this dish, I take the small one-pounders, called “chicks,” and turn them into a bigger meal. Like all peasant-style cooking, this dish ekes the most out of every expensive ingredient, like draining the cooking water from the lobster claws to add to the sauce and sautéing the tails in the shells to pull out every ounce of flavor. I’ve had this dish on my menu since I opened the restaurant. It’ll get you a lot of love for very little cooking time.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like seawater.
- Set the lobster tails aside and cook the claws in the salted water for 5 minutes.
- Remove and crack open using the back of a knife. Reserve any interior water and juices from the shells and add it to the final sauce for flavor boost.
- Bring another pot of abundantly salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain but do not rinse, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
- Cut each tail in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding 4 pieces.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in large sauté pan over medium heat and add the tail pieces (the shell still attached to the meat). When the lobster meat begins to look white (about 2 minutes), add the garlic and chiles and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the reserved pasta water, tomato sauce, and cooked lobster claws and simmer, reducing the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and any reserved liquid from the claws; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the pasta among 4 warmed serving bowls and sprinkle with mint.
- If you buy the lobsters within a few hours of when you're going to use them, have the fishmonger do the dirty work: Ask him to separate the claws, split the tails into four pieces, and discard the bodies.
- Cracking the lobster claws with the back of a knife is messy. Here’s our solution: Place the claws in a deep bowl to prevent splattering and use a lobster cracker. Added bonus: The cooking water from the claws stays right in the bowl.