Baked crab with cava

Baked crab with cava

Txangurro al cava

Spanish Made Simple
4 as a starter

At Christmas in Spain it’s all about shellfish, good ham and big centrepieces like suckling pig, milk-fed lambs and turkeys. We have this crab dish as a starter on 24th December every single year.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg live brown or spider crab
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
60ml cava
1 tablespoon coarse breadcrumbs
25ml brandy
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the crab in the freezer for 2 hours before cooking it. This will sedate it and make for a more humane death when it is cooked.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and boil the crab for 15 minutes. Allow to cool a little and then pull off the claws and pick all the meat from them. Open the top shell where the claws were attached to the body by pulling it apart from the main shell and spoon out the meat. You may need to cut the inner shell into a few pieces to access all the meat. Keep the main shell for presentation.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the garlic and onion until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the crab meat and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the tomato and the cava. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Fill the crab shell with the crab mixture, top with the breadcrumbs and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat the brandy in a saucepan over a medium heat just until you start to see bubbles rising. Pour the hot brandy over the breadcrumbs and quickly flambé at the table by lighting the alcohol with a long match. Make sure you do this slightly away from your guests and away from anything flammable, and check that no alcohol has splashed onto the tablecloth before you light it. Serve as soon as the flames die down.
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