This Lobster Pasta is a decadent dinner idea! Succulent, juicy lobster stirred through linguine or spaghetti dressed with a deliciously fragrant chili and garlic sauce.
This is pasta that you can serve on date night or at a fancy dinner party. Lobster (or crayfish as we get here in Australia) isn't your everyday protein, but they are delicious and worth the splurge every now and then!
You can pick up cooked crayfish and cooked lobster in the grocery store, and with this easy seafood pasta recipe, you can turn them into an indulgent and scrumptious pasta dinner.
What is the difference between lobster and crayfish?
Here in Australia, we get large crayfish, they are often called rock lobster, even just lobsters.
Australian crayfish are almost identical to warm water lobster or spiny lobster. Both in taste and appearance, but they both are slightly different from a coldwater lobster.
Coldwater Lobsters have big claws, whereas warm water lobsters/crayfish do not. That is the only difference! They taste almost the same, and you can use them in the same dishes.
What does lobster taste like?
Coldwater lobsters tend to be a bit sweeter, and the meat will be a little firmer. They have a taste somewhere between a prawn/shrimp and a scallop, having the sweetness of a scallop but with the meaty texture of a shrimp. Truly delicious! Plus, you get the flavorful claw meat (one of the best bits in my eyes!)
Warm water lobsters or crayfish do taste very similar, but they don't have the same sweetness and are more towards the giant prawn/shrimp with just a hint of sweet scallop taste.
Both are delicious, though, and you will find that crayfish/warm water lobsters are significantly cheaper in price.
Here in Australia, we can only get crayfish, so this is really a crayfish pasta, but I used to make this pasta with lobster when I lived in the UK and got cold water lobsters at Christmas time.
- Cooked lobster - You can often buy whole-cooked lobsters or crayfish in the grocery store. These are perfect for this dish. Keep the heads and shells as they are needed in the sauce. If you have lobster meat, you can definitely still make this dish but see the broth notes for tips on adding flavor.
- Broth - I would recommend seafood/fish broth for the sauce, but chicken or vegetable is a great alternative, especially if you use the shells in the sauce. If you don't have shells, then the seafood broth/stock is your best option, or grab some seafood or lobster better than bouillion, which will add extra flavor to your sauce.
- Pasta - A long pasta noodle is perfect here; spaghetti or linguine would be my choice. However, it could work with a more dense pasta like an Orecchiette. Fusilli, spirali or a casarecce would work.
- Lemon - The recipe uses the zest of the lemon and a little juice. Make sure you zest the lemon before you cut it in half. It is tough to zest a cut lemon!
Using cooked lobster in a hot dish
Currently, we are getting cooked excellent value crayfish in the grocery stores! Although raw crays are sometimes available, it is the cooked ones that people are buying, and I have had so many questions about how to use them in hot dishes.
You do need to be careful reheating cooked lobster as it can go tough if cooked for too long.
For this lobster pasta/crayfish pasta, the lobster/crayfish is poached very gently in the sauce, just enough to warm it through rather than overcook it.
Using the lobster shells
If you have the heads and shells from your lobster, you can transform a storebought broth or stock into something quite extraordinary! (if using a crayfish, add in those long spindly legs as well!)
It sounds like a bit of work, but I promise you it is so worth it!!! And after all, this is a special dinner, so it is worth the extra effort!
I have an entire post coming on this soon, but a brief rundown goes:
Break the shell/head into chunks (and don't throw out the tomalley from the lobster head, add that to the pan)
Fry the shells in plenty of olive oil until it is a rich orange color.
Use your spatula to push and squish the hard shells about, getting plenty of roasted color on them.
Add broth/stock (I like to use fish or seafood stock), but vegetable or chicken is perfectly acceptable.
Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Strain well and boil to reduce.
This flavor-packed broth turns the pasta sauce from just a sauce to a lobster pasta sauce!!!
What pasta to use for lobster pasta
There is something about spaghetti and linguine that just works with the velvety goodness of this chili and garlic lobster sauce! It slides and swirls perfectly.
However, it could work with a more dense pasta like an Orecchiette.
Fusilli, spirali, or a casarecce would work. But my first choice would always be a long noodle.
What to drink with crayfish pasta
I think the first choice here has to be bubbles! They are elegant, memorable and seafood and bubbles are a classic combination.
I like a dry rose Lambrusco. The dryness works with the spice in the pasta whilst the bubbles are great with the crayfish.
For white lovers, a Pinot Grigio, Viognier, or a Chenin Blanc would be great! Or, to pair with the lobster and the spice in the sauce, try something different and go with a Gewurztraminer.
If you want a red wine, avoid tannic or oaked wines, a light red like a Zinfandel or Valpolicella Ripasso would balance the sauce without overpowering the lobster.
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Lobster Pasta Recipe (crayfish pasta)
- 1 cooked lobster/crayfish - see note 1
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cup broth - see note 2
- 6 oz pasta - see note 4
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 red chilli
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter - chopped into cubes
- 1 lemon - see note 5
- fresh parsley
To make the lobster broth
- See note 2&3 if you just have lobster meat.
- Remove the tail meat from the lobster/crayfish and cut it into small bite-sized chunks. Set to one side until you have made the pasta.
1 cooked lobster/crayfish
- Break the shell/head into chunks (don't throw out the tomalley from the lobster head, add that to the pan)
- Add the olive oil to a large deep saute pan (or saucepan); once shimmering, add the shells and head and fry over medium-low heat until aromatic and the oil is a rich orange color.
3 tbsp olive oil
- Use your spatula to push and squish the hard shells about, getting plenty of roasted color on them.
- Add in the broth/stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
2 cups/500ml stock/broth
- Strain the stock well and boil to reduce to about 1 cup of liquid.
- Set aside until needed.
To make the pasta
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add in the salt and the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the packet suggests—Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
6oz/180g dried pasta
1 tbsp salt
- While the water is coming to a boil, finely slice the garlic and chili.
2 garlic cloves
1 red chili
- Pour the olive oil into a frying pan, add the garlic and chili, then heat over very low heat.
3 tbsp olive oil
- When the garlic starts to sizzle, pour in the reserved 1 cup of lobster stock and bring to a simmer.
- Add in the cooked pasta.
- Stir to combine and allow the pasta to soak up the flavor.
- Add around ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water, the chopped lobster, and the cubed butter. Allow this to melt and combine with the stock, turning the pasta gently to coat it in the sauce and heat the lobster/crayfish. Add more pasta cooking water if the pasta starts to look too dry.
¼ cup pasta cooking water
chopped lobster meat
2 tbsp chopped butter
- Add in about two teaspoons of lemon zest and cut the lemon into wedges. Spitz the pasta with one of the wedges and keep the rest for serving.
- Taste for seasoning, then sprinkle with parsley and serve with your lemon wedges.
- You can often buy whole-cooked lobsters or crayfish in the grocery store. These are perfect for this dish. Keep the heads and shells as they are needed in the sauce. If you only have lobster/crayfish meat, you can definitely make this dish, but see notes 2 and 3 to add flavor.
- I would recommend seafood/fish broth for the sauce, but chicken or vegetable is a great alternative, especially if you use the shells in the sauce.
- If you just have lobster/crayfish meat and don't have shells, use seafood or shrimp broth/stock. This will give you the best flavor. Reduce 2 cups of stock down to 1 cup and proceed with the recipe. Or, for a boost of flavor without the shells, grab some seafood or lobster better than bouillon, which will add extra flavor to your sauce.
- A long pasta noodle is perfect here; spaghetti or linguine would be my choice. However, it could work with a more dense pasta like an Orecchiette. Fusilli, spirali or a casarecce would work.
- The recipe uses the zest of the lemon and a little juice. Make sure you zest the lemon before you cut it in half. It is tough to zest a cut lemon!