The seafood is the hero in this simple pasta dish.






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  • 4 cooked Balmain bugs in their shell
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25 g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp baby capers
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 200 g (½ can) crushed tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs parsley, stalks finely chopped, leaves picked
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 330 g (⅔ packet) spaghetti
  • a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 fennel bulb with fronds
  • Salt and pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. To prepare the bugs, twist the head away from the body to separate. Using kitchen scissors, cut through the soft shell on each side of the tail belly side up. Carefully remove meat from the tail. Discard the intestinal tract. Tidy the tail up and reserve the trimming along with all the juices from the head. Place prepared tail on a separate plate for later.

Heat oil and butter over a medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic, chilli, capers and parsley stalks and cook until the garlic just starts to go golden. Add the wine and reduce by ⅓ before adding the tomatoes and bug juices. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 10-12 minutes.

Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Quick tip, if the packet says 12 minutes, cook for 8-9 minutes. That way you are ensured perfectly cooked al dente pasta every single time.

Add the bug meat trimmings to the sauce then turn the heat off to ensure the meat does not overcook.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce with the ½ the parsley leaves, lemon zest and Parmesan. Toss the pasta through the sauce. Serve in shallow bowls with the two whole bugs. Garnish with fennel fronds.