Notes: Pete Huckins uses live crabs in this dish, cutting each in half lengthwise, then between the legs, into pieces that include part of the body. Then he cleans the pieces and cracks them slightly with a mallet or hammer. We start with cooked crabs, but for the freshest possible flavor, ask your seafood merchant to cut, clean, and crack the live crabs as Huckins does; add them after sautéing the garlic in step 3 and stir often for about 10 minutes before adding the fish. Huckins also mixes the pasta into the pan once the crab and fish are cooked, serving the dish straight from there. Follow suit for a lively party, letting everyone dip into the common pot.
Sunset DECEMBER 2003
1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a boil.
2. Rinse crabs and fish and pat dry; cut fish into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Add butter and olive oil to a 12-inch frying pan (with sides at least 2 1/2 in. tall) or 14-inch wok over medium-high heat; when butter is melted, add garlic and stir just until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add fish and turn pieces occasionally until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Pour in sherry and lemon juice; gently add crabs. Sprinkle with parsley. Cover and simmer until crabs are hot and fish is opaque but still moist-looking in the center (cut to test), 5 to 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Meanwhile, add angel hair pasta to boiling water; cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender to bite, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain pasta well and spread in the bottom of a wide serving bowl.
6. Pour crab mixture over pasta and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with baguette slices to sop up the sauce.
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