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Around the world in 80 dishes No.23: Mexico

Spicy crab noodles by Thomasina Miers

Ingredients to serve 6

400g vermicelli (or angel hair pasta)

100ml olive oil

4 baby shallots, finely chopped

4 serrano or other fresh green chillies, finely chopped

2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes

a good pinch of ground allspice

2 tablespoons baby capers

2 bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

A good pinch of sugar

500ml chicken or fish stock

To serve:

300g dressed crab (I love Dorset crab towards the end of the summer)

4-5 tablespoons sweet chipotle paste

Lime wedges

A small tub of sour cream

A handful of chopped coriander


These noodles are served as a first course in Mexico, rather like pasta in Italy. Smoky, sweet, fiery and flavourful, cook it for people you love.

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan or paella dish, fry the vermicelli in the olive oil, stirring from time to time, for a few minutes until they turn a rich golden colour. Transfer to a sieve, draining the vermicelli on kitchen paper and putting the oil back into the pan.

Over a medium heat, sweat the shallots and chillies for about 10 minutes until the shallots are translucent and starting to break down, and then add the tomatoes, allspice, capers and bay leaves, season with salt, pepper and a good pinch of sugar, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Simmering the sauce will concentrate the flavours, giving you a lovely, rich tomato sauce.

Fifteen minutes before you are ready to eat, pour the stock into the tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat. Stir the noodles into the sauce and simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are tender.

Serve on plates with the crab, a good spoonful of the chipotle paste on top, wedges of lime, a dollop of sour cream and lots of coriander.

Variation: for a cheap but deeply comforting, restorative supper dish, simply leave out the crab and sprinkle the noodles with a little freshly grated Pecorino or Lancashire cheese.

From 'Mexican Food Made Simple' by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton, £20).