Crab stock

Crab stock

2.5 litres
Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

A wonderful, fragrant stock I like to use for all sorts of seafood soups, stews and braises, instead of the more prosaic fish stock. It should be used within 24 hours of being made, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.


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 canned diced tomatoes
125ml sherry
long piece peel from 1 orange
20 strands saffron, 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, peel, 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 an hour, skimming from time to time.
  3. Carefully ladle the stock into a container, discarding the solids. (Don’t be tempted to tip everything into a sieve: the less you disturb the solids at this stage, the clearer the final broth will be. I find the best method is to use a sieve to keep the solids submerged while you ladle out the liquid.) Refrigerate or freeze for later use.
Middle Eastern
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