One of the luxuries of being a Babe in the Woods is the seemingly endless supply of wonderful ingredients that you can forage and hunt for, such as king crab and chanterelle mushrooms, which grow plentifully in the rain forest of Southeast Alaska. True, it can get tiring to consume the same things over and over when you’re eating seasonally, but I suppose that’s an embarrassment of riches.
After a long day of fishing and searching the forest for mushrooms, I’m always ready for a big plate of pasta like this one. Spoiled by the abundance of these ingredients in Alaska, I’d often make this dish without skimping on either of the main ingredients. But since the crab and chanterelles are both very rich in flavor and can be expensive to buy, in the lower 48 it’s possible to make a sauce with delicious flavor even with smaller quantities of the crab and chanterelles.
While living on a hilltop with limited access to a supermarket, I often had to make do with what I had on hand; every time I cooked this dish, it would come out a little different. One of wonderful things about this recipe is that it’s somewhat forgiving. You can begin by following the standard instructions below, then tweak it to make it your own.
King Crab and Chanterelle Pasta
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-4 king crab legs (fresh, frozen, or pre-cooked), sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups fresh chanterelles, sliced; or 1 cup dried chanterelles, chopped
1/2 pound angel hair pasta (spaghetti may be substituted)
To make the sauce
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over low heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, until slightly browned, about 15 minutes. (If using rehydrated mushrooms, add reserved mushroom water, and cook until moisture is absorbed. See instructions for rehydrating mushrooms below.)
In a separate pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion until translucent, about seven minutes, adding salt to taste. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Pour in heavy cream, and bring to a simmer, stirring, then add in mushrooms and continue to simmer for five minutes. Add King Crab pieces and simmer for another five minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box, then drain and place in a bowl. Pour crab and mushroom sauce over the pasta and top with parsley, freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve family-style and enjoy!
To rehydrate dried mushrooms (if using)
If you are using dried chanterelles, rehydrate them first by placing them in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and allow to sit for about three hours. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup water.
Isabelle Lirakis is currently guest chef at the The Revolving Door restaurant in Newport, R.I. Catch her menu while she’s there!