Desired by all seafood lovers the King Crab is the emblem of the Magellanic region and more specifically of Puerto Natales, a town that each year awards a Gastronomic Cup to dishes containing its edible treasures.
In 2012 the Patagonian lamb took the lime light, however in 2013 the star of the show was the tastiest of all ……..the King Crab, from the bottom of the sea.
WHERE IT COMES FROM:
It is known that seafood should always be eaten fresh, even more so when it comes to the crab that lives in cold runners 200 meters deep. Alaska, Russia and Chile are the leading market providers of this crustacean. It is found in great quantities in Chile from Valdivia to Cape Horn.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
They can weigh up to five kilos and more. By law males should only be fished as capturing the females would cut the reproduction chain. They measure in at around 12 cm in size, taking into account their shell. They must be caught alive, however in come cases they are caught at such depths that they surface dead and could turn out to be poisonous. The King Crab season runs from July to November 31, if they are found out of season they are usually frozen which allows them to lose moisture and freshness.
Once they reach a port the process is a fast one. The shell of the crab becomes contaminated and adopts a bad taste if it spends too long out of water. They arrive alive at the abatoirs, where their shell and entrails are removed and are placed in a container of water to cook at 100 degrees. They are then placed in very cold water bath which makes their flesh more fibrous and allows any remaining shell to be removed easily.
At first glance the crab is a crustacean with a striking red shell and legs. Note: the crab is composed of shoulders (which is the first part after the shell) with a strong and intense flavour, then comes the main body (which is the fattier part) of soft, creamy and elegant taste, then comes the elbow which has a more neutral flavor, the meat within the legs is limited but has good flavour and finally the pincers have a lot more texture.
Besides being wonderfully flavourful the King Crab has various minerals, it is low in cholesterol and has 127 calories per 100 grams.
Almost all of the crab extracted in this region is exported to Asia. While King Crab seems easily accessible in Chile it is actually quite difficult to get hold of locally. Lots of King Crab is sent abroad overseen by the National Marine Fisheries Service. It is sent in three different ways: as a whole Crab, crab meat in blocks of five pounds or as a cluster (four legs tied up, cooked and frozen). Beware of buying on the black market, no one knows what the process or sanitation is like. When cooking at home, it is always best eaten fresh and if frozen it should be thawed in the refrigerator first.
THE GASTRONOMIC CUP
Along with SERNATUR the Chamber of Tourism of Puerto Natales have carried out for a fifth year in a row the Patagonia Gastronomic Cup, a culinary contest where last year 10 contestants cooked tasty crab dishes. Last years winner was Chef Alex Guerrero from the Hotel Llanuras de Diana.
WHERE TO EAT IT
If you are in Puerto Natales you must try the King Crab, the star of the region accompanied by a glass of chardonnay or sparkling wine. You can also enjoy wood oven pizzas at La Guanaca (Magallanes 167, Puerto Natales. Tel (61) 241 3245) with mozzarella cheese, lettuce and huge chunks of crab. Another tasty alternative is in the family restaurant Angelica’s (Bulnes 501 Puerto Natales. Tel (61) 241 0007) where you can eat a whole crab on a bed of lettuce. The Red Crab is a wonderful and simple restaurant, which has an amazing pasta with crab. Do not miss the wonderful crab salad from the Hotel The Singular only a few kilometers from Puerto Natales.
WATCH THIS SPACE
In the summer of 2015 Fernando Salazar, owner of the Hotel IF aims to open the first restaurant dedicated to this marvelous crustacean. Offering King Crab cooked in different ways and temperatures. It is in Puerto Natales that you will always find fresh and delicious crab!
TRIP NEWS AND IDEAS
We are in the process of launching a culinary journey through Chile aimed at you budding masterchefs so watch this space. Starting with a jostle through the seafood and produce markets of Santiago, you will learn about the innovative cooking that exists in the city. You will also visit some of Chile’s most renowned vineyards and learn about wine pairing from the experts. This will be followed by a Patagonian culinary adventure that will include workshops with Amandine of Encuentre Gourmet in Puerto Natales, chocolate and even beer tasting. Contact us if you are interested in this trip or if you would like to include an evening workshop in your custom Patagonian trip.
The oven-baked empanada is a magnificent symbol of Chile and an important element of many festivals and celebrations. Especially important during Independence Day celebrations it is also the expected appetiser at asados (traditional gaucho BBQ’s) and a traditional part of Sunday dinners and sporting events.
FOR THE BEEF FILLING: 1/4 lbs chuck roast or chuck steak, finely diced, 5 large onions chopped, 4 tablespoons lard, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 teaspoon hot sauce, Salt and pepper
FOR THE DOUGH: 8 cups sifted flour, 7 tablespoons lard, melted, Salt and 1 teaspoon paprika mixed with 1 tablespoon oil.
FOR THE EMPANADA: 20 black olives, rinsed, 40 raisins, soaked and 4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges.