Fill a pot with iced water and place the crayfish inside. Once asleep, blanch the crayfish in boiling water for one minute. Remove and place back in the iced water to stop the cooking.
Remove the head from the tail (making sure to keep the head whole for presentation). Using scissors, cut along the tail and remove the meat. Place on a chopping board and using a knife, slice down the centre of the tail and cut into pieces approximately 2cm thick. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Heat 50ml of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add red cherry tomatoes, make sure not to colour. Add the garlic and chilli and cook out for half a minute, deglaze with brandy and make an emulsion with the oil and brandy.
Add about 80ml of the shellfish stock and 80ml napoli sauce and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook the dry pasta in a large pot, allowing 1 litre of water per 100g pasta, plus salt. When you put the pasta in the pot, give it a quick stir to prevent from sticking. Cooking time will take about 10 minutes (read the label on the packet). Test the pasta when you think it’s ready (leave it al dente). Drain the pasta and return immediately to the saucepan with the sauce in it.
Toss the pasta through the sauce and add the crayfish meat and basil leaves at the last minute (cook the lobster until medium).
Plate the pasta in a large platter, finish with some baby basil and garnish with the crayfish head. Serve immediately.
Behind the apron
William Cowper is Head Chef at OTTO Ristorante Brisbane, sister restaurant to OTTO Sydney.
OTTO serves the food that people love to eat; Italian cuisine using fresh seasonal ingredients, with Will’s menu at OTTO Brisbane taking influence from the southern regions of Italy.
In the first year of opening, OTTO was named Good Food’s Best New Restaurant in Brisbane and Will’s Strawberry Panna Cotta named in Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Desserts of the Year.
Originally from Sydney, Will worked for a number of years at OTTO Sydney where he began to expand his role in the kitchen. He was promoted over the next four years through positions of increasing responsibility, moving into Senior Sous Chef, assisting Executive Chef Richard Ptacnik to maintain and expand the restaurant’s enviable culinary reputation.
In 2015, Will was asked to lead the kitchen team at OTTO Brisbane, and eagerly accepted the Head Chef position at Fink Group’s first interstate restaurant. Brimming with new and fresh ideas, Will made the move to Brisbane, and has been an integral part of opening the Brisbane venture.
Will’s food at OTTO Brisbane is unashamedly simple - fresh, seasonal, produce-driven, sourcing the finest ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. In truly embracing the move to Queensland, Will has developed close relationships with local producers, working alongside them to ensure OTTO uses the best-quality ingredients available. Will is passionate about not only the food OTTO serves, but also supporting farmers and growers in the wider Queensland region.