Tony’s Table: Piperade Crab Cioppino
4 large live crabs
1 lb. large prawns, deveined
1 lb. raw clams
1 lb. cleaned and debearded mussels
1 lb. cleaned calamari
1 lb. cubed cod or any firm white fish
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup chopped celery
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
4 cups roma tomato, coarsely chopped
1 small bouquet garni
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup clam juice
1 to 2 cups water
½ cup olive oil
Pinch of Espelette Pepper
Preparing the sauce:
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté garlic, onions, celery, green pepper and parsley in olive oil until tender.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, clam juice and Espelette pepper and the bouquet garni.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour.
Prepare the crab:
Bring a large pot of salted boiling water and drop whole crabs into water. Boil for 4 minutes.
Have a large bowl of ice water ready and immediately remove crabs after 4 minutes from hot water and submerge into the ice bath to stop cooking. Once the crab is cold, carefully separate the bodies from the shell. Split bodies in half and crack legs. Reserve crab fat.
Making the cioppino:
Add cracked crab, crab fat, raw clams, mussels and fish to sauce. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes (taste a crab leg to check for doneness). Add calamari and prawns during the last five minutes.
Check seasoning to your liking. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve cioppino hot with toasted country bread.
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