Think of this as a simpler version of bouillabaisse with all the
flavour, but less work. Use a mixture of seafood if you like, but
the real flavour comes from toasting the crab shells in the
2 tbspolive oil6blue swimmer crabs, cleaned, halved, claws cracked2fennel bulbs, thinly sliced½white onion, thinly slicedLarge pinch of saffron threads2 tsptomato paste100 mlPernod200 mldry white wine500 ml (2 cups)fish or crab stock6king prawns, unpeeledRouille1 red capsicum2 tspolive oil1large kipfler potato (120gm), scrubbed1boiled egg, white discarded1large garlic clove2 tbspwhite wine vinegarPinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water300 mlolive oil
For rouille, preheat oven to 200C. Toss capsicum in olive oil and roast until tender (20-25 minutes). Transfer to a heatproof bowl,cover with plastic wrap and stand to steam and soften (20-25 minutes). Meanwhile, place potato in a saucepan, cover completely with cold water, bring to the boil over high heat and boil until tender (15-20 minutes). Drain and cool. Peel capsicum and potato, coarsely chop, and transfer to a blender along with yolk, garlic, vinegar and saffron and its water. Blend to combine, then, with motor running, gradually add olive oil in a thin steady stream until thick and emulsified. Season to taste and refrigerate until required.
Meanwhile, heat oil in an extra-large wide saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add crabs and stir until they start to roast in the oil and turn red (2-4 minutes). Remove from the pan. Add fennel, onion and saffron threads and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened (8-10 minutes). Add tomato paste and stir until the colour deepens (1 minute). Deglaze pan with Pernod and simmer until almost evaporated (1-2 minutes), then add wine and reduce by half (2-3 minutes). Add fish stock, return crabs to pan, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until crabs are cooked through, adding prawns during the last 8 minutes of cooking (10-15 minutes). Remove crabs from pan and strain vegetables and stock, reserving both. Return stock to pan and reduce over high heat until well flavoured (8-12 minutes). Season to taste, return crab and vegetables to pan, and serve with rouille and crusty bread.