For a few glorious weeks in autumn or early spring, Venetians descend on the city’s famed Rialto Market, keen to satiate their appetites for one of Veneto’s most-prized delicacies. These locals are on the hunt for moeche, a type of soft shell crab that have been harvested in the region for around 300 years. With a notably sweet flavour, infused with the salty waters of the Venetian lagoon, the small crabs are fried until crisp and served with polenta and a wedge of lemon, as well as a cold glass of Prosecco DOP from the region. Harvested by skilled local fishermen known as ‘molecanti’, moeche (the crabs of Venice’s lagoons) are a rare luxury - there is a finite window in which the local delicacy can be harvested, while the juvenile crab’s new shell remains soft.
In fact, the dainty moeche are so revered that they adorn facades throughout the city. The Venetian lion - the symbol of the city - is often portrayed in bas-relief with its wings either side of its head. It is said this is reminiscent of the crab’s claws, with this specific pose referred to as ‘moeca’, a local idiom referring to the crab.
This week, we honour Venice’s ‘moeca’ with our decadent crab ravioli, which combines sweet crab with mascarpone cheese. To complement the flavours of these ingredients, we dress the ravioli in a simple butter infused with sage - a fabulous pairing for seafood. To finish, we garnish with a little asparagi di mare (the locals poetically refer to samphire as ‘asparagus of the sea’), evoking Venice’s salt-rich lagoon one final time.
Crab Ravioli (200g):
Pasta (Durum WHEAT Semolina, WHEAT Flour “00”, EGG (24%)), Filling (Crab Meat (CRUSTACEAN) (41.8%), Pangasius (FISH), Mascarpone Cheese (Pasteurised Cow MILK, Cream (MILK), Salt, Acidity Regulator; Lactic Acid), Butter (MILK), White Wine (SULPHITES), Shallots, Potato Flakes, Garlic, Salt, Parsley, White Pepper)
Sage Butter (20g):
Butter (MILK), Sage, Black Pepper