Centolla Chilena (also known as the Magellanic spider crab, the Patagonian spider crab, southern spider crab or Chilean spider crab) is a crustacean that inhabits the seabed of the cold waters of southern Chile, from Valdivia to Cape Horn.
Living in the waters south of the Pacific, Centolla is a highly valued ingredient in Chilean gastronomy and is notoriously difficult to source. In Chile, it is considered a true delicacy and is typically reserved for a special occasion.
When cooked, the flavor of the spider crab is intensified by the addition of parmesan cheese and a fresh mineral white wine to compliment.
History & Cultural Significance
Since the species is quite a rarity even in Chile, not much is known about the exact origins of the different variations of this dish. However, that doesn’t mean the spider crab is in any less demand.
Owing to its rarity, Centolla Chilena is almost always exclusively available in the finest hotels in Chile. While the preparation of this dish isn’t really that difficult, it’s the exclusivity that makes it so sought after.
- Spider Crab Meat - 500g
- Fish or Shellfish Broth - 250ml
- Fresh Cream- 120ml
- Parmesan Cheese - 100g
- Oil - 30ml
- Butter - 30ml
- Chili - 5g
- White Bread Crumbs (soaked in Milk)- 2 Cups
- Bay Leaves- 2
- Onion (finely chopped) - 1
- Garlic (finely chopped) - 1
- Oregano (dried) - 1tbsp
- Fill a large pot with water and add 3 tablespoons of whole sea salt and optionally 2 bay leaves. If the spider crab is still alive, add it to the pot with cold water so that the legs do not come off during cooking. If the crab is already dead, first bring the water to boil before putting it in the pot.
- When the crab is dead or alive, once the water returns to boil, cook for 15 to 18 minutes depending on the size. Take the crab out of the water, remove the meat from the shell, shred and reserve.
- In a pot, cook oil on medium heat, add the colored chili pepper, minced garlic, onion and fry until soft without browning. Add the oregano with fish stock and bring to a boil.
- Add the crumbled crab meat along with bread soaked in milk, grated cheese and butter to the pot. Cook over medium heat and stir carefully until the mixture thickens. Season to taste. Finally, add fresh cream and stir until smooth.
- Preheat the oven at medium-high temperature (about 190°C) for at least 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into a baking dish, add the rest of the grated cheese on the surface and bake for about 10 minutes until golden.
- Serve the crab hot right after taking it out of the oven. Optionally, you can top it with finely chopped fresh parsley or coriander.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 0.8gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 21g