Portuguese dressed crab

Portuguese dressed crab

Santola recheada

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Serves
2
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The crabs in Portugal are fabulous. Santola (spider crab) and sapateira, which is similiar to the British brown crab, are available at most marisqueiras (shellfish restaurants) and we serve them a bit like traditional dressed crab: you gently smack the legs and claws with a hammer to extract the sweet meat inside, which you dip in a mix that we call caça and eat with a little toasted crusty bread. The caça varies, but usually includes pickled vegetables, grated egg and a shot of brandy. The rest depends on the creativity and patience of the chef.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 crab, such as spider crab, brown crab or Dorset crab

Your choice of seasonings

Quantity Ingredient
tabasco
worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, Finely grated zested and juiced
brandy
ketchup
mustard
gherkins, finely chopped
Quick-fried beef with pickles, Pickled vegetables

To serve (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
shallots, finely chopped
parsley, leaves finely chopped
hard-boiled eggs, yolks and whites grated separately

Method

  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the crab and simmer for 12–15 minutes (for a 1kg crab), or until it is cooked through. Check by breaking off one of the claws: the meat inside should be white and opaque. Remove the crab and put it in a bowl of ice to cool.
  2. Twist off the claws and set them aside. Put the crab on its back with the eyes facing towards you. Press your thumbs on either side of the eyes and push away the shell. Discard the greyish, feathery-looking gills (called ‘dead men’s fingers’), which are poisonous and should not be eaten.
  3. Use a crab picker or skewer to pick the white meat from the body. Scrape out the brown meat from the shell. In a bowl, mix together the white and brown meat, then add your choice of seasonings. I like to add brandy, a bit of ketchup and mustard, and some finely chopped pickled vegetables.
  4. To serve — Spoon the filling into the main body shell. Crack the back of the claws and legs with a heavy spoon or knife and arrange them around the shell. Garnish the crab with finely chopped shallots and parsley; grated egg yolk and white is also a wonderful addition.
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