"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."
- 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)
- 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
- 1For 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.
- 2Slice 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.
- 3Divide 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.
Drink Suggestion: An orange-style wine or a wine that has had extended skin contact, such as 2012 Cantina Giardino “Paski” Coda di Volpe.