Visiting Santiago de Chile and the Central Valley you can have an image of a Mediterranean Chilean climate and nature, with an almost never ending summer. But there are parts of the country where winter rules. I invite you to a trip to the Chilean Patagonia to discover its culinary treasure: the king crab.
From Santiago to the south of Chile is a journey of over 2,000 km. The Carretera Austral connects terrestrially northern Patagonia with Central Chile, while the region of Magallanes has only land access through the Argentinean territory. The faster and more convenient way to get there is by plane to Punta Arenas and from there explore the beautiful nature of Southern Chile.
It is a very hard nature land. Because of its proximity to the Antarctic, the weather conditions mean a long winter with heavy snow, low temperatures and a short summer. But what you can see and admire there, will leave you speechless. It is a magical landscape: snowy peaks, fjords, canals, islands, rivers and glaciers.
In the Patagonia you can plan various activities such as extreme sports, fishing or just visit the unique natural monuments such as the famous Torres del Paine National Park, with its main peak reaching 3,050 meters above sea level, located about 112 km from Punta Arenas. In a special edition of National Geographic, Torres del Paine was chosen as the fifth most beautiful place in the world, and it also was selected as the eighth world wonder in 2013.
The other obligatory point is Laguna San Rafael National Park, located in the Aysen Region. This park is characterized by its 400,000 hectares of ancient ice, in the so-called Northern Ice Fields. It is a true impressionist painting composed of glaciers and channels that can go on cruises and catamarans for all budgets.
In the Chilean Southern Zone are mixed indigenous cultures with Spanish colonization and German migrations from the nineteenth century. So the flavors are diverse and unique. From this cold and beautiful terroir comes the southern king crab, recognized by chefs as the best in the world for its strong, deep flavors.
Its scientific name is Lithodes santolla, but it is better known as Magellan crab, southern crab or Chilean crab. It is a crustacean that lives in the cold waters of the Pacific from Valdivia to Cape Horn. Along the Chilean coast, at the height of Northern Patagonia, its flesh is sweeter than elsewhere, because it incorporates in its diet the nutrients from rivers that fall from the glaciers.
This crab has a great culinary value for the exquisite flavor of its meat. In addition it is nutritionally rich in iodine, it haa very little cholesterol and many proteins. It’s preferable to acquire it whole and alive, or fresh and frozen, but never dead and raw. Its shell is sensitive to sunlight. To avoid the internal decomposition, fishermen immediately boil or freeze the crab, once removed from the sea.
If you get a live crab, you have to tie its legs and clean it. To cook it, you should boil plenty of water and cook it for about 12 minutes per 500 grams of crab. Finally, pass to cold water, detach the shell and remove the meat from the body and legs.
There are several ways to incorporate the crab in the cuisine and different recipes also set the tone for a wonderful wine pairing. If you serve the crab meat sautéed, without dressing, with white bread and eventually a drop of mayonnaise, I recommend Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay from Limarí Valley with its fine minerality, acidity and elegant structure. If you prefer to prepare a gratin crab in the oven with a rich layer of cheese, I suggest a more complex Chardonnay, such as Amelia Chardonnay from Casablanca Valley, with tremendous juiciness, but also with more weight on the palate and a rich bouquet of notes: tropical fruits, lemons and salt sea breeze. The crab meat is very elegant, fine and delicate. So the taste disappears if the recipe is too elaborate or filled with other ingredients.
The king crab crepes are other different and fun way to prepare this delicious crustacean, but at the same time it preservs the purity and elegance of its aromas. I recommend this dish with Subercaseaux Extra Brut sparkling wine, made from Chardonnay and a lower percentage of Pinot Noir. This wine comes from the chalky soils of the Limarí Valley. It has a complex body, a very good balance and brings a lot of freshness with its sparkling citrus notes.
King crab Crepes
Ingredients for 4 people
0.5 cup of wheat flour
20 g clarified butter for frying
1 pinch of salt
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of sparkling water
250g shredded crab meat
1 teaspoon of butter
0.5 cup of cream
2 onions, chopped shallots
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of white wine
• Mix all dough ingredients in a blender and let stand in refrigerator
• Fry the pancakes in butter, some minutes on each side. Keep warm.
• Heat the butter, make shallots lightly browned.
• Add the the crab meat and cook for a few minutes, then pour the white wine, let reduce.
• Add the cream and season. Let thicken, stirring.
• Spread the mixture over the hot crepes and serve immediately.