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Southern calamari and fennel salad in crab sauce

"For me, the greatest flavour from crustaceans comes from the shell and the head meat," says Moyle. "I love the richness that you get from this sauce, but I also hate it due to my developed allergy of crustacea. It doesn't stop me cooking with it and tasting it, however. I've just had to learn to live with a swollen mouth occasionally. This method of preparation for the calamari is very adaptable - it can be used in salads or broths alike."

You'll need

500 gm southern calamari, cleaned, half the wings and legs reserved for crab sauce 2 cups fennel fronds 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp fennel pollen (optional; see note)   Crab sauce 500 gm crabs of choice (Moyle prefers blue swimmer) 250 ml (1 cup) grapeseed oil 500 gm tomatoes, coarsely chopped ½ fennel bulb, coarsely chopped ½ white onion, coarsely chopped 750 ml (3 cups) chicken stock To taste: lemon juice


  • 01
  • For crab sauce, smash crabs into pieces, and remove and discard gills, aka dead man’s fingers. Combine crab and oil in a large saucepan with reserved calamari wings and legs, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until shells turn orange and are lightly toasted (4-5 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture evaporates and tomatoes start to turn deep red – this is the most important part of the process; the tomatoes must begin to caramelise, but not burn on the bottom (15-20 minutes). Add fennel and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (3-5 minutes), then add stock and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and cook for flavours to develop (8 minutes). Pass through a chinois (see note), pressing on solids to extract all the liquid; there will be a layer of oil floating on top, which is okay. Transfer to a clean saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat, whisking continuously until stock becomes cloudy and emulsifies (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, whisk until cooled to 50C (6-8 minutes), then season to taste with lemon juice and sea salt.
  • 02
  • Slice calamari as finely as possible into noodles. Blanch very briefly in batches in a saucepan of boiling water, agitating with a large spoon so calamari cooks evenly and doesn’t clump together, until it’s just turning opaque on the edges (10-20 seconds; this is like washing the calamari in boiling water, which Moyle finds easiest to do by lowering it into the water in a chinois). Drain on a tray lined with paper towels and cool slightly, then combine in a bowl with fennel fronds. Dress very lightly with olive oil and lemon juice and season lightly to taste.
  • 03
  • Divide crab sauce among serving bowls, top with calamari and fennel salad, sprinkle with fennel pollen and serve.

Note Fennel pollen is available from Herbie's Spices. A chinois is a conical-shaped, fine mesh strainer ideal for straining sauces and stocks.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

An orange-style wine or a wine that has had extended skin contact, such as 2012 Cantina Giardino “Paski” Coda di Volpe.

Featured in

May 2015

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