Crab stock

Crab stock

New Middle Eastern Food
2.5 litres
Mark Roper

Many seafood dishes are immeasurably improved by using a good seafood stock. We tend not to use fish stocks, as they can be rather overpowering. Instead, we use crabs as the base, which have a sweeter, almost nutty flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg crabs
150ml olive oil
4 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, roughly crushed
400g can diced tomatoes
125ml dry sherry
long piece zest from 1 orange
20 saffron threads, roasted and crushed
2 bay leaves
12 sprigs thyme
4 litres water


  1. Remove the underbody from the crabs and pull away the spongy gills (‘dead man’s fingers’). Cut each body in half and bash the shells and claws into large pieces.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan to smoking point. Sauté the crab pieces briefly over a high heat, then add the celery, onion, garlic and fennel seeds and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sherry, zest, saffron, bay leaves and thyme, then add the water. Bring to the boil, skimming away any fat and impurities that rise to the surface, then lower the heat immediately. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, skimming from time to time.
  3. Carefully ladle the stock into a container, discarding the solids. (Don’t be tempted to tip it all into a sieve: the less you disturb the solids at this stage, the clearer the final stock will be. I find the best method is to use a sieve to keep the solids submerged while you ladle out the liquid.) Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for later use.
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