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May 13, 2013 10:24 AM

squilla mantis spaghetti with white wine - english recipe needed

These creatures seem unknown on this side of the pond. Googling for recipes I found this

which seems promising, but I would prefer pasta to "stew". I found a recipe in Italian

and google's translation service allowed me to get the general idea (white wine is added to the pan, the dry spaghetti is then added and the pan is covered to allow the spaghetti to cook) but if someone has the actual or similar recipe in english that would be great!

Also if anyone has experience cooking these little monsters, how much liquid do they give up during cooking? Will all of it be released or can cutting into them after they are cooked be messy?


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  1. what cool looking little critters!! never seen them though.

    as for the pasta...

    there is an old-fashioned method of breaking up long strands of pasta, like vermicelli or spaghetti, and browning those bits in a saute pan with some onion and oil. cook about 2 minutes or till pasta starts to brown. then you add stock or wine and cook about 10-15 mins til pasta is done. (my ancient brain cannot recall the term. hopefully another hound will assist, lol.)

    that would work here too. the size of your creatures would determine when to add them over the top of the cooking pasta.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      this is a fascinating idea, I wonder if it is in any of my cookbooks? I'll have to give it a try.

    2. May I be so bold as to ask where you are procuring these innocent looking murderous thumb splitting crustaceans?

      10 Replies
      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        I am in the planning stages of a "Roman" feast, my prospective guests are voting right now on whether to include these little sweethearts in an "Athenian" honey glaze, or Apician stuffed and steamed sardines, or razor clams in an Apician shellfish sauce. Little do they know that I have no idea (yet) where to get the squillas from :-|

        I have read that you can get them live and fighting in Chinatown(s). Not sure if that is a good idea. Their claws move faster than bullets when they strike! If we resort to buying them this way, we may be in for quite an adventure on the subway!

        They MAY be available in Italian specialty stores such as Eataly (as canocchie). Search on for "spaghetti alle canocchie" and you will see what they might look like if you can find them frozen. But, googling for "frozen canocchi" finds nothing.

        They are also eaten in Spain but I have no idea what the Spanish call them. I would presume they are eaten in Greece and other E. Med and N. African countries as well, but that's just a guess.

        1. re: teukros

          This is the earlier thread on mantis shrimp, worth looking at:

          In Greece they are called skouliki, in Spanish galera, in French squille. (These are all from Alan Davidson's Mediterranean Seafood.) If you are into ancient cuisine, you might remember that a squill is also a type of onion, or bulb at any rate, and Thucydides tells us that Pericles practically wore his helmet to bed to hide the squill shape of his head (I don't remember the Greek, unfortunately).

          What is the reference in Apicius? Do you have any other ancient citations for them?

          1. re: mbfant

            Plutarch, not Thucydides. "Squill-head" is σχινοκέφαλος schinocephalos.

            1. re: DeppityDawg

              You are so right. It all comes back now. The 8 a.m. Plutarch class with funny old Roger Pack in cold, gray Ann Arbor ...

            2. re: mbfant

              I'm far from an expert - I only found out about squillas last week in the course of my research - but there is the famous anecdote about Apicius himself (he heard Libyan "shrimp" were larger etc.). One of my books (Dalby and Grainger's Classical Cookbook) has a recipe for honey glazed shrimp which is, admittedly, a modern reconstruction of a dish which was briefly mentioned in a Greek poem (by Philoxenus according to the text). I was considering this recipe and my inevitable next question was, what kind of shrimp? My research led me to the conclusion that when a latin text is translated into English, any references to shrimp are probably referring to our little weaponized friends. Was this an incorrect conclusion?

              EDIT: Just to be clear, I know that latin "squilla" translates into "shrimp" (or crayfish, or prawn, etc.) It probably covers scampi (also related to the lobster) as well, assuming that the peoples of Roman Britain and Northwest Gaul were eating them, and I have the impression that they may have been despite the fact that they are generally found in deep waters. But what would have been typical in the ca. 1st Century markets of Greece, Sicily and Southern and Central Italy? And my research led me to the conclusion that if you went into such a fish market and asked if there were any "squillas" you'd probably end up with these little darlings.

              EDIT2: My wife checked out the flagship Eataly store in New York today, and no joy.

              1. re: teukros

                I've just looked at all the photos of marine scenes I took at the Bardo, and saw many shrimp-shrimp but nothing I would recognize as a pannocchia. So, no, I would not say Latin refs to shrimp are to necessarily to mantis shrimp. According to Dalby's "Food in the Ancient World from A to Z", Aristotle's krangon (makes me think of Klingon) is mantis shrimp.

                1. re: teukros

                  "Squilla" is a broad term, even broader than our "shrimp". It also referred to some lobster- or crab-like creatures. But I think the Romans were definitely eating shrimp, after all you can also find them in fresh water and in easily accessible tidal basins.

                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                    Is there anything they didn't eat? ;-)

                    1. re: teukros

                      tomatoes, potatoes, and corn, of course

                      1. re: mbfant

                        Also most beans, all squash including zucchini, all chiles including bell peppers, sweet potatoes, avocados, peanuts, pecans, allspice, chocolate, vanilla, and those are just from the Americas! Tropical fruit too of course, pineapples, mangoes, bananas etc. Hops. Yams. Rhubarb. Most citrus (lemons were just starting to enter into Roman awareness around the 1st Century). I'm sure there were others which we use practically everyday but that is just off of the top of my head.

          2. This is the translation of the recipe in your second link. In typical Italian fashion, quantities, temperatures, amounts, etc., are left to the imagination. I presume that by "clean" is meant "shell", but I'm not at all positive. The little monsters do give off quite a bit of liquid, and if you overcook them, they turn to mush. There was a thread about them recently on Chowhound, but I forget which board.

            For 4 persons: 1 kg mantis shrimp, 350 gr spaghetti, garlic, parsley, veg broth, white table wine, salt and pepper

            First prepare the veg broth in a small pot, as for risotto. Clean the mantis shrimp and cut them in pieces (I use scissors, which are practical in a nice wide skillet, about 28 cm), sautè with a little oil and minced garlic and parsley, then add the mantis shrimp in pieces and cook until they are pink. Add a little white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Season with salt and pepper. Once the mantis shrimp begin to throw off a little liquid, add the spaghetti directly in the skillet and moisten with veg broth. Cook, adding broth, until the spaghetti are cooked. This will take a little longer than the usual 10 minutes and I put a lid on the skillet to take advantage of the humidity.
            The trick of cooking the spaghetti directly in the skillet ensures that their starch helps to bind the sauce and the takes all the flavor of the fish. But I advise only spaghetti because other formats of pasta are a little too thick to cook in the skillet.

            1. Thanks very much for the translation! If we can find these little beasties we will definitely give it a try!

              1. I found mantis shrimp at a local Italian grocery that imports fish and seafood from the Adriatic. I love experimenting w new-to-me ingredients and just couldn't resist these unusual creatures!

                I prepared a stew using the mantis and black tiger shrimp. Report and photos here:


                That said, I can't say I'd seek them out again. They are very spiky and I had a heck of a time removing the meat from the shells. To my mind these shrimp have such great visual interest but I can't see serving them in their shells to guests as they are way too difficult (and painful) to work with. Once removed from its shell, I just didn't find the flavour of the meat to be unique enough to warrant the amount of effort it took to extract it.

                Perhaps there's a trick to doing this though. I'm looking forward to reading about your experience.

                ETA: I forgot to mention that I didn't find these gave off a lot of liquid at all. They were purchased fresh though.