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Recipe

Angel hair pasta with crispy whitebait & lemon carbonara

This is a great summertime starter or light lunch. If whitebait is out of season and you can’t find any frozen, you could easily substitute it with your favourite seafood, e.g. prawns, crayfish or mussels.

  • 45 mins preparation
  • Serves 6
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Ingredients

Pasta
  • 400 gram 00 pasta flour
  • 155 gram tepid water
  • 20 millilitre Simunovich Estate lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil
Savoury lemon curd
  • 3 large eggs
  • 90 millilitre fresh lemon juice
  • 5 gram salt
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 40 gram sugar
  • 60 gram butter
To assemble
  • 150 millilitre grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • simunovich estate lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon (heaped tbsp) chopped fresh herbs (avoid ‘hard’ herbs such as thyme or rosemary)
  • 2 tablespoon salmon caviar – optional but a great textural treat
  • 50 gram whitebait per person (or more if you like)
  • 40 gram 00 pasta flour
  • 2 tablespoon toasted breadcrumbs (i use wafers of my squid-ink bread but any bread will do; tear bread for a rustic look)
  • picked fennel tips – optional

Method

Pasta
  • 1
    Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and, using your fingers like a fork, slowly stir in the water, incorporating a little at a time.
  • 2
    When the water and flour are evenly combined, knead the dough until you have a smooth, elastic ball (about 5 minutes). Cover in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
  • 3
    Once rested, roll out dough, using a pasta machine, to a thickness just short of 1mm. Cut into 30cm lengths and feed through the spaghetti attachment. Lay on a floured surface and let dry for 1 hour.
  • 4
    Blanch pasta in boiling, salted water for approximately 3 minutes, refresh in iced water and drain well. Dress with lemon oil and set aside. (You may have a little more than required but it will make an excellent cold noodle salad the next day.) Alternatively, cook dried pasta until al dente, then follow method above.
Savoury lemon curd
  • 5
    For the lemon curd, place everything except the butter into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk mixture until cooked to a sabayon, meaning the mixture is pale and fluffy yet thick, and will hold a figure of eight made with the whisk.
  • 6
    Remove from the heat and add the butter a little at a time. Taste and, if needed, add a little more lemon or salt. Set aside.
To assemble
  • 7
    To assemble, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Also, heat the oil in a deep-sided pan to about 160°C (this will be used to deep-fry the whitebait; or you could pan-fry if you prefer).
  • 8
    In a big heatproof bowl, add a generous tablespoon of lemon curd and half that amount of lemon oil; stir. Gently fold in herbs and caviar (if using).
  • 9
    Place pasta in pot of boiling water for 1 minute, making sure it is evenly distributed. Add half the whitebait and stir. Immediately drain, reserving a little water, and tip pasta and whitebait into the bowl with the curd and herbs. Stir vigorously to coat in curd, adding a little cooking water to loosen if needed. Use a fork to twirl portions into pre-heated serving bowls.
  • 10
    Dust remaining whitebait in the flour and then flash-fry in the 160°C oil for about 10 seconds (the pasta flour gives a crisp but light result). Serve the fried whitebait on top of the pasta and garnish with toasted breadcrumbs and fennel tips.

Notes

(This recipe is ready in 45 minutes however, if you're making your own pasta, add on 1 hour 15 minutes plus overnight chilling) You can make the pasta, curd and breadcrumbs ahead of time and throw everything together at the last minute, leaving your friends and family to marvel at your genius. I’ve made my own angel hair pasta because it’s something I love to do, but don’t let that scare you off – just buy quality dried angel hair pasta from a specialty food store.

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