Swiiming crabs and swimming memories - what I learned from my father, gastronomically speaking

It's still Summer, there's no running away from it. It may be September, most of us may have just returned from an August of relaxation, beach days, warm nights, but the days are still be rather hot and we may all still crave a chilled beer or some nice cool white wine on a friday night, despite being September. Fresh fish, just steamed or grilled is still what we crave the most, or maybe some nice seafood. A light dish, fragrant with the scent of open sea, easy on the spices, just really letting the basic ingredients sing. I craved this dish the moment my feet landed on the bay. I ended up having to cook it for the three of us to have on a very warm Summer evening.

My father was rather a foodie. And a conoisseur, as well. He was great with cooking traditional portuguese food, and he knew his seafood so well. He was a lover of seafood, shellfish above anything else. Crabs. All sorts of them. When I was a child, we always had some sort of pilgrimage to certain restaurants where seafood was the specialty, or else we'd go to some sort of savage, secluded beach where we could fish for our own seafood. There are things I haven't eaten since my father passed away. Swimming crab is one of them, and I had rather missed it for a while. I didn't even know I missed eating this.

I'm lucky enough to have a husband that shares the same love of seafood as I do, and once I began talking about how I missed eating a good swimming crab soup, he was sold on it. Money is always scarce, but we always manage to find a way of having certain expensive ingredients on our pantry, even if in small amounts. Now, seafood is rather expensive in Portugal, so we never buy a lot of it. Three swiming crabs seemed about right for the three of us, and that was what we brought from the fish market one fine morning. The rest of the ingredients being rather affordable, all we needed was somo good white wine, and we were set to go. Cooking this was one hell of a blast to the past, as I could envision my father busy with pots and pans in the kitchen and keeping an eye on those crabs so they would not break free.

If you're in the mood to try this soup, you'll need:
  • one swimming crab per person
  • one or two chorizos - depending on the number of people you're serving
  • a cup of small sized pasta - I used pipe doppia rigature
  • one medium to big onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • one clove garlic, finely chopped
  • three to four medium sized ripe tomatoes, diced
  • one carrot finely diced
  • one dry or fresh red chilli
  • one glass of dry white wine
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro, lower half chopped finely, leaves just torn and mind to keep some for garnishing once it's cooked through!
  • olive oil
  • Salt 
Start by heating up a pan with olive oil and add the chorizo, the onion, cilantro, garlic, chilli and carrot. Let them cook gently until onion is slightly transparent. Add the tomatoes and let them sizzle, then pour in the white whine to deglaze, let simmer for a few seconds. Add a few cups of water and the salt, bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, throw in the pasta and let it all cook together for about ten minutes. Now the stock should be boiling once again, and you should taste for seasoning. Adjust what you feel might be needing, wether it's salt of some more acidity. Throw in the crabs, bring to a low heat and let them cook for about ten minutes - it rather depends on their size, the smaller they are, the less time they need. Once they're done and the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, throw in the rest of the cilantro and serve on big bowls, one crab per person, garnishing with a few cilantro leaves. Enjoy over a glass of chilled white wine!


  1. O teu pai e o meu haveriam de se dar muito bem, o meu pai também rula com marisco, peixe (seja cozinhando, seja pescando) e tenho boas recordações de apanhar canivetes e outras coisas boas. quando era pequena! Para mim petisco sempre foi sinónimo de marisco pois lá em casa o petisco era sempre do mar! Ainda estou a sorrir!

    1. Percebes. Eu cá lembro-me de apanhar percebes com o meu pai, e navalheiras tb. Mexilhão, conquilha, berbigão. E caracóis, looool!! Quando era miúda havia um bruto descampado ao pé de casa dos meus pais, atrás da esquadra, entre esta e o Liceu, e lembro-me do meu pai me dar um saco para as mãos e perguntar "Queres uma caracolada para hoje á tarde? Vai lá apanhar uns ás terras!" e eu ia toda feliz!

  2. wow, que prato absolutamente delicioso e sim, consigo bem picture you and your dad nas aventuras gastronómicas. ainda bem que ficam as recordações!!!
    beijinhos e bom resto de semana


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