Mantis shrimp spaghetti

Mantis shrimp spaghetti

Spaghetti alle spernocchie

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Mantis shrimp look a little like a cross between scampi and some kind of insect, with large decorative ‘eyes’ painted on their tails – but their sweet meat could be compared to that of lobster. They’re rather difficult to get into, with hard shells and sharp thorns hidden along their armour-covered bodies, and sometimes with disappointingly little meat in proportion to the effort needed to get in – but what they do guarantee is bucket-loads of flavour. In fact, locally they’re thrown into just about any mixed seafood stew, cooked whole, as their shells add incredible flavour to dishes.

I absolutely love the no-waste method here for making a rather simple pasta dish with maximum flavour. The shrimp are first boiled, then the meat fished out of their shells. The pasta is cooked in the stock left from boiling the shrimp to get double the flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg mantis shrimp
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
125ml white wine
freshly chopped red chilli or dried chilli flakes, to taste (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
320g dried spaghetti


  1. Bring about 2 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Boil the mantis shrimp over high heat for 2 minutes, or until just cooked and opaque.
  2. Drain the mantis shrimp, keeping the water on a simmer. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells. I recommend using sharp kitchen scissors to cut open the body lengthways to pull out the meat. Be careful of the thorns along the sides of the body.
  3. In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil, garlic and parsley over low–medium heat. Let the oil infuse for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the mantis shrimp meat and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed. Taste for seasoning; it probably won’t need much salt but you can add freshly ground black pepper or chilli to taste, if desired.
  4. Add the salt to the shrimp cooking water and boil the pasta in it until al dente (refer to the packaging for timing and take it off the heat 1 minute earlier than it says). Drain, reserving about 60 ml of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan with the shrimp mixture, along with the reserved liquid. Over low heat, toss together evenly for about 1 minute to coat the pasta. Serve immediately.


  • If you can’t get mantis shrimp, you could use this same technique to cook scampetti – little scampi – which are considerably less expensive than their larger, prettier counterparts. Cook them for 2 minutes, then as you’re shelling them, pop their heads (the best part) back into the pot to keep simmering while you finish shelling and preparing the sauce. By the time you’re ready to cook the pasta, you’ll have a delicious scampi stock waiting.
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