The estuary spider crab (Maia brachydactyla) is a decapod crustacean from Galician estuaries. It lives on rocky coastal seabeds up to a depth of 100 metres. This spider crab of Galician origin accounts for only a minimal part of the catch and is much more highly prized than others due to its outstanding quality.
Physically, they’re distinguished by their dark colour, sharp spikes, and shell covered with algae and hairs.
The estuary spider crab is rich in minerals, especially iodine and zinc. Iodine helps improve our metabolism and energy levels, while zinc helps us grow and strengthens our immune system. It’s the perfect food to combat fatigue.
To cook, add plenty of salted water to a pot, and when this starts to boil, submerge the crab. From the moment it boils again, it will take between 20 and 25 minutes to cook, depending on the size. Once cooked, remove it from the pot and allow it to cool.
Then open the body and remove the inedible grey layer. The legs should be eaten one at a time, breaking them with a dedicated shellfish utensil and patiently extracting the meat. The entire interior of the shell can be scraped out, known as the “cacho” in Spanish, and together with the juice it contains, can be made into a kind of paste ready for eating directly with a spoon.
Some people like to prepare it “txangurro”-style, a typical recipe from Basque gastronomy.
Trade name: Centolla Ría
Scientific name: Maja Brachydactyla
Obtained Via: Capture
Fishing gear: Gill nets
Catch area: Northeast Atlantic FAO zone 27 subzone IXaFAO