Simple pleasures

Sea aster time





Truffle taglierini with prawns, chilli and sea aster

It’s STILL the Easter holidays.

The children have not stopped talking to me for two solid days. I think they must breathe through their ears. It’s been a stream of consciousness/relentlessness that James Joyce would have struggled with.

And from Joyce to Danté. We’ve just taken Charon’s ferry to the new and as yet undiscovered circle of Hell called Gambado, a soft-play torture centre.
While the sadistic and at the same time surely masochistic staff feed the crazed children sugary snacks, doubtless aware of the aftermath, all I can do is try and find a quiet corner (unlikely) and hide from their incredible energy levels like out of control hybrid chihuahua-mosquitoes.

The children are having a complete riot. I still smell of prawns underlayed with a kind of lingering seaweed scent. No amount of aftershave can mask the possibility that Poseidon is decomposing under my chair.

The reason for this is my need for an early lunch to fortify myself. I’d been to the Crystal Palace market on Saturday to visit my favourite fishmongers and support my friend Roberto of

The prawns wouldn’t keep until today, so I’d frozen them when I got back. They were magnificent, and at £7 for two, while not cheap (and why should they be?) they are so much nicer, in my opinion, than lobster. I’d rather four of these, cooked in garlic butter than one small lobster any day.

I’d also picked up a large handful of sea aster, reminiscent of samphire crossed with spinach. I bought a bag of truffle taglierini to go with them and that was all I needed. Cooking amazing food really can be this simple. Great ingredients and this dish was ready in about ten minutes, not taking into account the boiling of the pasta water. Make sure you wash your hands well after peeling the prawns and rootling about in the sea aster. Unless you like being chased by cats.

Ingredients for two
4 huge prawns, shell on
50-60g truffle taglierini. If not, normal taglierini or angel hair spaghetti will do the job. God forbid, but you could possibly add a dash of white truffle oil if you were desparate for the funkiness of truffle
A handful of sea aster
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
A pinch of chilli flakes
A grating of nutmeg
Excellent quality olive oil. It really does make a difference here
Maldon salt to season

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and toss through with some olive oil.
Meanwhile, cook the prawns in some olive oil with a little salt in a very hot sauté pan, then when done, add the garlic and cook for about a minute more on a slightly lower heat so you don’t burn it.
Throw in the sea aster and wilt it for a minute, give a good twist of nutmed and a pinch of salt to taste then mix through with the pasta. Serve immediately with another little drizzle of oil.


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