A light but flavourful crab pasta with an aromatic shellfish broth

crab pasta

Over the years, my gorgeous and svelte wife S has continuously pressured me to make lighter and healthier pasta dishes. You see, my default, when it comes to pasta, has always been rich and creamy. That’s just the way I like’m. But as I’ve aged and the pounds have become harder and harder to keep off, I have to admit that I’m finally seeing the wisdom in my beloved’s request. My favourite non-creamy, light, but still flavour-packed pasta recipe right now is a crab tagliatelle with an aromatic shellfish broth.  

While light, this dish is packed with umami-goodness. Which is important to me (and I’m sure you as well). While relatively easy to make, you will need to (1) spend time sourcing ingredients and (2) devote a full morning or afternoon to making the broth.

For the version I make at home, I’m currently using spanner crab meat that I brought home (frozen) from my recent trip to Noosa, Australia. But you can use any high quality picked crabmeat. I suggest checking your local gourmet store for good quality flash frozen crabmeat. I would take that over canned stuff any day of the week. The best thing, of course, would be to pick the meat yourself, but that can be really time-consuming and, if you’re like me and are simply unskilled at picking crabmeat, rather aggravating.

Also, for the broth, you can use almost any kind of crustacean shell. When entertaining, I’ll use two whole flower crabs for the broth. When making this just for myself and S, I’ll use a dozen prawn shells (just the shells, the meat I’ll freeze and use some other time) and heads. What shells you use is really up to you.

I also tend to steer the overall flavour profile of this dish to be a bit Asian. I do this in three ways. Firstly, I use Thai basil, laksa leaf and lemongrass as aromatics when making the broth. Secondly, I sauté the crabmeat with shallots, ginger, garlic and chilli. Thirdly, I mix minced Thai basil and laksa leaf with shaved parmesan to top off the dish with. If you have a more European palate, I suggest using tarragon and maybe some leek instead of the Asian herbs when making the broth. You could sauté the crabmeat with diced onion and maybe even some chopped tomatoes. And you can mix the cheese with parsley, tarragon and either chervil or basil. While the recipe below reflects how I like to make this dish, it’s flexible enough that you can tweak the dish in different ways depending on what flavours you like best.


About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!