The last time that I wrote about cicale here I did not include a recipe, as I was not the cook that night. Over our Christmas holiday in Rome, Deme and I found some cicale at great prices in the covered market of Piazza Vittorio aka Chinatown. I was determined to try to make them myself this time. (These special shrimps are available in Italy during the fall and winter but I have never seen them in Seattle and am not sure of their existence anywhere else in the States as a food item.) This easily is one of the best pastas I have ever eaten.
1 kilo of cicale
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 T. finely diced onion
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes or better yet 6-8 fresh summer plum tomatoes (peeled, seeded and diced)
good quality spaghetti
best quality olive oil
chopped parsley to garnish
1. Place cicale in a large pot with just an inch or two of water and steam until they are all pinkish orange, about 5 to 10 minutes, no longer. Take them out of the pot to cool as soon as they have cooked through. Reserve the juice.
2. Once the cicale are cool enough to handle, take a strong pair of scissors and cut off the head and the tail, you will be left with the body and this looks like a mini lobster tail. Turn the body over and with a pair of scissors, cut a vertical line up the underside. Spread the underside open and scrape out all the flesh you can. It won't look like much but if you lucky and skillful; you might get a long strip of flesh instead of pulp. Either way both are fantastic, reserve the flesh.
3. In a small saucepan, reduce the cooking liquid produced by the cicale until you have about 1/4 C. Strain and set aside.
4. In a separate pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic until brown then discard. Add the onions, sauté until soft, 10 minutes, then add the tomato plus 1/2 C. of water. The sauce should be somewhat supple and the tomatoes soft (about 10 min), add the cicale water and taste for seasonings. Add cicale meat to the sauce and then stir in just al dente pasta. Make sure to cook the pasta in the sauce for at least 1-2 minutes for maximum flavor. Garnish with parsley.
Note: Try to time the pasta so it is ready when your sauce is ready.
Be careful with the live shrimps, they have claws that are very sharp. (Photo by Meladie D.)
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