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Main Dish

Crab Cioppino

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  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Crab butter* (optional)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups Tony's Marinara, or tomato sauce recipe follows
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish broth
  • 2 fresh Dungeness crabs (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
  • 8 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 16 clams, well scrubbed
  • 16 black or green mussels, well scrubbed
  • Chopped parsley, as needed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Tomato sauce:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 40 ounces canned puree tomatoes
  • 18 basil leaves, julienne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


In an 8-quart kettle or pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until transparent. Add the garlic and saute until it begins to brown. Stir in crab butter and let cook slowly for 2 minutes (crab butter is saffron yellow in color and adds a distinctive rich flavor). Next, add the wine, and reduce. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, broth, and live crabs (see note).

To simmer at low heat for about 5 minutes. Add shrimp, clams, mussels and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve in a bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste.

Note: If your crab is cooked ahead of time, add it to the recipe at the same time you add the clams, shrimp, and mussels.

*Fresh crab usually has yellowish matter under the shell in the center of the body, called crab butter, or fat, or mustard. It is edible and considered quite tasty – optional.


Tomato Sauce:

Warm heavy skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and diced onion. When onion becomes transparent, add the garlic and cook until lightly brown. Add tomatoes, basil leaves, salt and pepper, and simmer for 45 minutes.



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