Leave it to Alex Prichard to rethink your next plate of pasta. As the culinary director at Bondi’s picturesque Italian specialists Icebergs Dining Room and Bar , he knows exactly how to spin the classic and familiar into something new.

That’s true of his latest take on bucatini, a hollow pasta that Icebergs has offered in different versions in the past. Envisioning the thick, spaghetti-esque pasta as a choice carrier for sauce, Prichard has come up with a buttery, crab-filled sauce that’s as luxurious as they come.

“It’s more like a tomato butter,” he says of the orangish-pink sauce, which combines a bit of classic pomodoro sauce with rich Kumato tomatoes, raw spanner crab meat, seafood stock and anchovies and chillies. “The bucatini absorbs a great deal of the sauce and the flavour, so you get as much sauce in your mouth as possible while you’re eating it.”

The other trick he employs is featuring rich and darkly coloured Kumato tomatoes as a semi-dried topping for the finished pasta. Combined with the triple hit of lemon verbena, lemon juice and lemon zest, makes for a memorable harmony of flavours.

“They add a sweetness that goes really well with the crab and with those lemony notes,” says Prichard. “It’s also rare for a tomato to be firm and full of flavour, which is what’s so unique about Kumatos. When you buy them, they’re quite firm but also have a depth of flavour already present. Whereas a Roma tomato is either firm but tasteless or soft but delicious. They’re also not too watery.”

That makes them ideal for this dish, where they’re blanched and peeled before being seasoned and dried in advance. As for sourcing the raw crab meat and seafood stock, both are increasingly easy to find, with Harris Farm locations offering the stock and your local fishmonger selling the crab. Spanner crab works best for raw crab meat, because the texture holds up best during the picking process.

As for a drink pairing, skip past the expected red or white and go for a vermouth spritz, which mingles the sweet and bitter while remaining nice and light. That’s a natural accompaniment to a dish that’s deceptively simply to make yet leaves an outsized impression – especially when you’re entertaining dinner guests.

“It’s pretty simple and approachable for people to do at home,” Prichard says. “It’s a style of sauce that people don’t usually make at home, where you have the sweetness and flavour of the tomato but richer and more velvety. Most guests will go, ‘Wow, how did you do that?’”

Bucatini, spanner crab, Kumato and verbena butter
Serves 3–4
Preparation/cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
200g Kumato tomatoes
Olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 fillets anchovies, finely diced
2 birds eye chillies, finely diced
100g pomodoro sauce
500ml crab or shellfish stock
500g bucatini
1 bunch lemon verbena, finely chopped
200g raw spanner crab meat
150g butter
1 bunch basil, torn
1 lemon, for zest and juice

Method:
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the Kumatos and blanch for 10 seconds, then put straight into ice water. Peel the skin and pat them dry. Season lightly with salt and leave them in the sun or oven at 90 degrees for a half a day (6 hours) to dry a little.

To make the sauce, place a frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and begin to sweat off the garlic, chillies and anchovies. As these start to become fragrant, turn the heat to high. Add the pomodoro sauce and fry until it caramelises slightly. Add the crab stock and start to reduce.

Start cooking the bucatini as instructed on the package. As your sauce is reducing, add the chopped lemon verbena. Once the pasta is almost cooked but still has bite, add to the fry pan and continue cooking in the sauce for 1-2 minutes. Add the crab meat and toss through.

Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and basil. Whip and toss the pasta quite aggressively to emulsify and thicken the sauce. Season with lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Plate and finish with the semidried and fresh Kumato.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Perfection Fresh.