Taking advantage of the crab, a seasonal crustacean, beyond Christmas: what it is, how to cook it and three recipes to enjoy
The Christmas display means that many shellfish (be they mollusks or crustaceans) are part of our menus on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. We are talking about prawns and prawns, but it is also irremediable that we talk about spider crabs, barnacles, crabs, crayfish, red shrimp and, of course, crabs, a very tasty ingredient that is in its prime at the end of summer until the last days of December. , since its closure begins in the month of January.
The most common is to consume them cooked but they can give a lot of play if we consume them grilled or grilled, not to mention that they are fundamental ingredients to make seafood and fish stock with a toasted touch or, of course, with the famous crab cream , which is another of the protagonists if we talk about first Christmas dishes.
It is a seafood that we usually find cooked, but also frozen, being less frequent to find it in our fishmongers still fresh. However, today we are going to claim that live and seasonal crab that makes it so exquisite and with which we can crown ourselves in a starter, in a first course or taking it to the main ones.
With these wickers, apart from talking about her, we will also value a few recipes where she has the upper hand and with which you can surprise at any time. In addition to several tricks to get the most out of them.
What is crab?
When we speak of crab, we do so referring to the species Necora puber, a decapod crustacean belonging to the infraorder of the braquiuros, such as spider crabs or sea oxen, that is, what we generally know as sea crabs. Beyond the name nécora, it is convenient to know that we could also find them as andaricas in Asturias, as cabrots in Catalonia and Galicia, although it is very possible that you will find them as nécora, you will also find them as nacra, andariña or even lavañeira.
Its color is deep red, brownish, which can be more or less dark but should never be a bright or light red. Physically it is very easy to identify it from the rest of the usual crustaceans because it is smaller, has a pentagonal shell (wider towards the front legs), slightly domed and with small hairs, which are responsible for the fact that in English it is known as "velvet crab "or velvet crab. It has ten legs, of which the first two are hypertrophied in the shape of a pincer, and the last pair is widened into a fin shape.
They are wider than they are long, finding them around eight centimeters wide, by about six centimeters long, although it is very rare to find crabs of higher dimensions because the large ones are more adult and are found deeper. In any case, the weight of the crab will be highly variable, with examples ranging from 80 grams to over 300 grams with some solvency. It should also be remembered that there is a marked sexual dimorphism, with the males having larger claws but the females being the tastiest (as well as carriers of the coral). We can easily appreciate this difference by looking at the abdomen of the animal, where in the case of males we will find a more pronounced triangle, while that of females is more rounded and wider.
They predominate on the Cantabrian and Atlantic coasts, although they can also occur on the Mediterranean coasts, not being so frequent there. In any case, we are talking about nocturnal animals that usually live in rocky, sandy and muddy areas of the coastline, being able to live up to 70 meters deep, although this is only common in very adult specimens, which are also the largest size.
They usually feed on other small crustaceans, algae and also some decomposing remains, making it a magnificent omnivore that is usually part of the daily diet of octopuses. Fishing gear, always nocturnal, which is when the crab shows the most action, are traps and trammel, although the former are more popular.
Capture areas and the best season
True to the months with rr, the crab has its peak between the months of September and February, although in January and February its biological closure begins for the recovery of the species in the main fishing grounds, which correspond to the ports of the Cantabrian Sea, having special The Noja crab (Cantabria) is famous, its fishing extending to other areas of the peninsular Atlantic, such as Asturias, the Basque Country and Galicia, where the corresponding Ministries of Agriculture decide on the biological stoppages of the species, which may not coincide in time.
The season starts in summer, around the month of July, and lasts until December, with January being the month of biological unemployment in most ports in the north of Spain. However, despite the long duration of the season, the best months to consume crab are November and December, mainly because market prices are higher and it also allows more boats to fish to find more profitable animals during this period. bigger.
There are other crabs on the market, especially in late winter and spring because crab is imported from other European countries such as France or the United Kingdom, which are known as Liocarginus corrugatus (called French, British or British crab), which is more clear in color, smoother and lacks the classic hairy legs of the Necora Puber. You can also find the so-called false crab (Liocarcinus depurator), which also comes from the North Atlantic coasts and which visually stands out for its redder color and for having longer legs than the Galician crab.
Properties and benefits
Nutritionally, we are talking about a very powerful product in terms of proteins of high biological value (19.5g per 100g of clean product), which makes them very useful for all those with protein deficiencies or for athletes. In addition, it provides little fat (5.1 grams per 100g of product), of which 3 grams belong to unsaturated fatty acids, which does not imply that people who have cardiovascular risks, well associated with hypercholesterolemia or hypertension, should not monitor their consumption.
However, like most crustaceans, crab is a food with a high load of purines and therefore has a high presence of uric acid, so people who suffer from gout or hyperuricemia should limit their intake. Hypertensive people should also minimize their consumption because crabs are rich in sodium, whose mineral contribution is very important in this case. Although it is true that not all patients with high cholesterol are hypertensive - and not all hypertensive patients have high cholesterol - there are certain comorbidities that should be controlled.
Continuing with the nutritional parameters, the vitamin values provided by the crabs are rather low, although it compensates with good doses of minerals. It is rich in phosphorus, iodine, potassium and selenium, which are good allies for our kidney health, as well as the advantages it can provide for strong bones and teeth.
Tips for choosing and buying the best crab
In this case, we should not be guided only by the size to buy crab, but by the weight, although first a good visual inspection must be done. We must make sure of its color (reddish and brownish), that it has all the legs and that it does not present breaks (the juices will escape there when we cook them), that it has bright colors and that it is active in the fish market, not being so interesting the crabs that are more stopped. In any case, always better live crab than dead crab.