I specialize in dishes that take no more than an hour, generally with Asian and Italian themes.
Grilled crab over linguine.
This is my favorite dish for groups not exceeding 8 persons, featuring a pile of grilled crab legs and claws cooked in Italian spices over a bed of al dente linguine in
the hugest serving bowl you can find. The presentation is dramatic, and you can make it out of crab kept in your freezer -- whenever I find a good price for cooked Alaskan
king crab legs, I buy a bunch and throw them in the freezer, and at this level of spicing and preparation, frozen or fresh cooked does not seem to matter at all. This is
a dish that requires simultasking and, depending on the distance between your kitchen and your barbeque, can become an aerobic exercise..
Get your grill going on high. Get your largest pasta boiler pot going.
Using sharp cooking scissors, but the crab legs into 6-10 inch segments, then make a big diagonal knick at the middle of each segment about a third of the way around the
diameter -- this makes cracking easier when eating, and also helps let some of the flavoring into the meat during cooking. Be prepared for people to eat huge amounts, and
leftovers are always good with this dish anyway - I'd recommend 3 legs or claws per person. I usually put this pile of crabs into my biggest aluminium bowl.
Now, the spices. In a separate bowl, add the following: crushed garlic (never too much), olive oil, sesame oil (this is critical to get the distinctive nutty flavor; rough
guide is to use about a third as much sesame oil as olive oil), lemon juice, white vermouth or white wine, oregano, parsley, ground cumin (lots), whole celery seed, crushed
red pepper, salt, black pepper. The concoction should have the consistency of Italian salad dressing (in fact, this is good salad dressing if you add some balsamic vinegar
to it). Dump this over the crab, and toss it around (use large cooking spoons, don't try this bare-handed). You should have enough of this mixture such that there is about
one or two cups visible at the bottom of the bowl once the surfaces of the crab are coated..
Turn your grill down to between medium and high, put the crab and cover. At this point, your pasta water should be in full rolling boil, so dump your linguine in. Bring
the bowl of the remaining spice concoction back to the kitchen, get a medium saucepan going at medium heat. Put a little olive oil, and sprinkle a handlful of pinenuts
and stir until they start turning brown. Add capers at this point, and then dump the spice concoction and turn the heat up to high. Let this concoction boil reduce a bit,
then turn off.
About 5 minutes after you've put the crab on, run back over to the barbeque, take a spatula and spoon and toss the crab around (it really doesn't matter that all of the
stuff get cooked on both sides, just do it statistically). Run back to the kitchen, drain the pasta, hopefully al dente, and put it in the serving bowl. Immediately put
the sauce from the saucepan over the linguine, and toss it so that it's evenly mixed. Take this bowl back out to the barbeque, and lay the crab on top. Bring back to the
dinner table to a bunch of "oh, wow".
To make the presentation even more delightful, you can do three things: If your bowl is big enough, you can grill some asparagus (tossed in the same sauce) and lay them
on the side; you can sprinkle coarsely chopped fresh parsley on top (contrasts well with the crab color), and (my favorite) you can get a bunch of mussels and include them
with the crab, and then put the mussels on top of the crab -- this really creates a HUGE pile and adds to the "oh WOW" effect (unless your guests dislike mussels).