Spider crabs (lat. Maja squinado) are large Mediterranean crabs that live on sandy or gravelly ground and are often covered with camouflage algae. They have a hard and spiny heart-shaped shell of reddish color and can grow up to 20 cm long. As they are numerous in the Adriatic, they have always been part of the specialties of Venetian cuisine. Both males and females can be eaten. While the former, recognizable by their relatively large pincers and smaller tail, but with tastier meat, the females are more fleshy producing extra eggs hidden beneath a mighty tail plate. Spider crabs taste better from October to December. During this time, the females contain a large amount of coral, a reddish to orange-colored creamy substance that tastes spicier and firmer than the rest of the crab meat. A crab of about 400-500g gives a main course, but the medium-sized specimens of about 250 to 300g are preferred because they have tender meat and are therefore excellent for appetizers.
Ingredients for 4 persons
4 living medium-sized spider crabs
1 bunch of parsley, chopped (at will)
Olive oil »extra virgin«
Salt pepper from the mill
1 1/2 hours
Carefully brush off the abdomen of the spider crabs. Then tie the legs to the body with kitchen twine.
In a large pot, boil a lot of water with 1/2 lemon, salt and some peppercorns. Add the spider crabs to the boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes. It is ready when it becomes scarlet red. Allow the spider crabs to cool in the water.
Remove from the pan, drain and remove the kitchen twine. Clean the abdomen from any remaining incrustations.
In females, first remove the tail plate, remove the eggs and place in a bowl. Then remove the entire lower shell. Turn off the legs individually at the base. Be careful not to damage the carapace.
Remove the coral, the creamy substance in the cerebellar chest cavity, and place it in a second bowl. Gently mix the meat in one piece and pick it. Then carefully remove the hard and cartilaginous parts and add the meat to the coral. Use a sharp object to remove any remaining meat from the abdominal ruffs. In doing so, also trigger the creamy brown substance and add to the eggs.
Use a special pincer or a nutcracker to break the legs and extract the meat. Pick and place in the bowl to the remaining meat.
Carefully mix the meat and coral with a pinch of salt, plenty of freshly ground pepper, the juice of 1 lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fill in the carefully washed carapace. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to taste.
Now mix the eggs and the creamy substance with each other and distribute separately, so that each guest can taste.