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6 cups seafood or chicken stock (preferably unsalted) 
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce, or to taste 
Bottom half of 3 large stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, sliced diagonally and bruised with a knife 
10 slices ( 1/8 inch thick) fresh galangal 
2 shallots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and crushed 
6 kaffir lime leaves, each torn into 2 to 3 pieces 
8 to 12 Thai or bird's eye chiles, crushed 
2 raw Dungeness crab claws, cracked, plus 1/2 crab body, cut into 2 or 3 pieces 
12 clams or mussels (scrubbed, mussels' beards removed) 
1/2 pound medium prawns, shelled and butterflied 
2/3 pound sea scallops 
3 medium-size squid, cleaned and cut into 1-inch rings 
2/3 pound firm fish fillets, cut into 1-inch chunks 
Juice of 1 to 2 limes 
About 1 teaspoon sugar 
1/2 to 1 cup Thai basil leaves 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 
Dipping Sauce 
Asian fish sauce 
Sliced Thai chiles 
Lime juice 
Pinch of sugar 

Bring the stock to a boil in a large soup pot. Season with fish sauce. Add the lemongrass, galangal, shallots and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chiles and simmer a few minutes longer. Increase heat to high and bring the stock to a rolling boil. Stir in the crab and boil for 20 seconds. Add the clams or mussels and cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining seafood. Add lime juice to taste and sugar as needed. Stir in the basil and white pepper. 
For a dipping sauce: Season fish sauce with chiles, lime juice and sugar -- all to taste. Serves 8 as a fish course; serves 4 as a whole meal