I remember eating lobster fra diavolo at Italian restaurants as a kid. Because it was one of the more expensive items on the menu, we’d order one for the table and everyone in the family would have a taste. Back then, lobster fra diavolo meant lobster with red sauce and a lot of crushed red pepper flakes. After I trained as a chef, that formula didn’t seem so appealing. Just putting lobster pieces in tomato sauce was not much of a step up from serving the precious meat with ketchup. So I thought about how bouillabaisse is made, by using shellfish to flavor the tomato and wine sauce, and proceeded from there. The sauce is made in the pan that the lobsters have cooked in, so it takes on some of that flavor. The tomalley (which is the green liver) and the roe, if there is any, are added to the sauce to give the dish a bit more complexity.–Mark Strausman
LC If You Just Can't Bring Yourself to Kill a Lobster Note
We understand. We sometimes get the willies, too. Just substitute a couple of fully cooked, shell-on lobster tails, found at your local seafood counter, for the whole lobsters. No judgement here.
Lobster Fra Diavolo Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour | Serves 2 with leftovers
- Two 2-pound live lobsters
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 dried Italian hot red pepper, split lengthwise, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups canned crushed Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, undrained
- 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Sicilian
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Place the lobsters in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- 2. Turn each lobster on its back and, using a large knife, split it lengthwise down the middle. (This will kill it instantly.) Spread open the lobster bodies and tails but do not remove the meat from the shells. Remove the eyes and antennae and scrape out the digestive sac, reserving the tomalley and roe, if desired.
- 3. Place a large Dutch oven or other wide pot over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pepper and lobsters, cut side down, and cook until the shells turn red and the lobster meat is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. (You may need to cook the lobsters in batches.) Remove the lobsters from the pot.
- 4. Add the wine and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the anchovies, oregano, and tomalley and roe, if desired, and stir well. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Taste and season with additional dried pepper, to taste. Add the lobster shells and meat to the sauce and simmer until the lobster is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
- 5. While the sauce is cooking, fill a pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- 6. Transfer the lobsters to a plate and either reserve to serve atop the pasta or remove the lobster meat from the shells, chop it, and stir it into the sauce.
- 7. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss. Transfer to a large serving platter and sprinkle with the parsley. If you didn’t incorporate the lobster into the sauce, place it on top of the pasta. Serve family-style.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Tagliatelle with Lobster Cream Sauce and Mushrooms from Stephen Cooks
- Risotto Allaragosta from Bell'Alimento
- Trenette with Langoustines from Leite's Culinaria
- Lobster Thermidor from Leite's Culinaria
Lobster Fra Diavolo Recipe © 2007 Pino Luongo | Mark Strausman. Photo © 2007 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.