Here’s a good deal for local Dungness crab lovers. Chef/owner Manuel Azevedo of LaSalette Restaurant in Sonoma has launched a new Crab “Stewsday” on Tuesday evenings through crab season, showcasing his mother’s recipe for “ Caranguejo” Portuguese spiced crab stew.
For $33.95, you can get a complete crab dinner with a hearts of romaine salad, garlic buttered penne pasta with Topo cheese , crab stew, garlic bread and choice of house-made ice cream or sorbet.
The crab stew is made fresh, so make sure you have a reservation before you go: 938- 1927. The restaurant is located at 542 First Street East, on the east side of the Sonoma Plaza.
Here is the recipe from Azevedo, who grew up on a dairy in Santa Rosa and has championed Cozinha Nova Portuguesa in Sonoma County for nearly 20 years. Cozinha Nova Portuguesa blends classic Portuguese cuisine from the mainland, the territories and the former colonies with the fresh ingredients of California Cuisine.
LASALETTE’S CRAB STEW
Caranguejo à LaSalette
Serves about 4
3 large Dungeness crabs, about 6 pounds
3 medium onions , diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
½ chopped piri piri pepper or pinch of red chili flakes
3 bay leaves
1½ cups dry white wine
½ cups chopped flat leaf parsley
If crab is purchased live, bring a large pot with enough water to cover the crab to a boil. Using large
tongs, carefully place the crabs into the pot and boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit
for another 10 minutes. Pull the crabs out of the pot and place in an ice water bath to cool quickly.
Once cooled, twist off legs and claws from the body and then pull away the apron (the underbelly). Now
separate the carapace (the main shell of the body) from the body to reveal the spongy gills and crab
butter – the innards of the crab including the fat attached to carapace. Remove and discard gills. Scoop
out and save crab butter. This is essential as this butter imparts the rich crab flavor to the stew.
Squeeze collected crab butter through a fine-meshed strainer. Clean crab body under running water and cut into 6 pieces. Crack legs enough to create a little space for sauce to penetrate shell. Collect the body, legs, claws, and butter and set aside. Discard carapace and strained-out material.
In a large thick bottomed pot, slowly sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil. Don’t let the onions
brown too much. Should take about 40 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the crab and
simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add the cooked crab, including the strained crab butter, and steam in
covered pan for about 10 minutes to heat through, gently stirring from time to time. If stirring is too
vigorous, the crab tends to fall apart and look messy.
Turn off heat and let pan sit covered for at least 1 hour before serving to absorb flavor. Give the stew a gentle stir every 15 minutes to coat the legs and claws with the other ingredients. For even better flavor, let sit for several hours before serving.
To serve: When ready to serve the crab stew, reheat covered pan until steaming again. Add more white
wine if necessary. When ingredients are thoroughly heated, serve stew in large shallow bowls. Sprinkle with more fresh chopped parsley, if desired.