Yellow spider crab

This spectacular dish from Elena Arzak consists of two separate, delicate preparations of spider crab hidden beneath an ornate, painted crab shell: crab and roe flambéed with brandy, and crab mixed with truffle and sherry vinegar vinaigrette. The crab shell takes several days to dry, so be sure to start well in advance of when you want to serve.

First published in 2022
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Ingredients

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'Collagenized' scorpionfish broth

Dressed and 'collagenized' crab

Flambéed spider crab and roe

Painted crab shells

  • yellow edible paint

Creamed cauliflower

For garnish

Method

1

To make the ‘collagenized’ scorpionfish broth, first scale and gut the fish scorpionfish. Once it is clean, cut the whole fish into pieces (including the head)

2

Put the chopped up fish into a large saucepan, and cover with the water. Bring to a simmer, and skim and scum that forms on the surface

  • 3l water
3

Cook over a low heat until the liquid is reduced by 80%. Strain the scorpionfish broth, and transfer to the fridge to chill. Once cool, it should be completely gelled

4

Next, prepare the crab. Add the two spider crabs to a large saucepan and cover with water, measuring how much water you add. Season the water with salt, adding 40g salt per litre of water

5

Boil the crabs for 10 minutes, then remove from the water

6

Extract all the meat from the crab, cleaning and setting aside the large shells from the crabs’ bodies. Pick over the meat carefully to check for pieces of shell. Separate the roe from the meat, and set aside

7

Whisk together the oil, vinegar and truffle juice to make a vinaigrette. Set aside

8

For the flambéed spider crab and roe, first cook and clean the next two spider crabs as in the previous few steps, cleaning and setting aside the large shells from the crabs’ bodies again

9

Fry the onion with a little bit of oil until soft, then add the tomato. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes

10

Add the crab meat with roe of all four crabs to the pan, flambé with brandy, stir, and cook over a low heat for a couple more minutes

11

Taste, and adjust the seasoning if required

12

Dry the reserved crab shells well. Paint the outside of the crab shells with yellow edible paint, and let dry for several days

  • yellow edible paint
13

For the cauliflower, boil it in salted water until tender, and then drain well

14

Blend the cauliflower with the star anise, cream and butter - it should be quite thick. Season with salt and pepper and set aside

15

When ready to serve, add one teaspoon of the collagenized scorpionfish broth to the non-flambéed crab meat and add the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well, ensuring that it is evenly combined

16

To plate, put the flambéed crab meat and roe and collagenized crab in two small mounds opposite each other. Top with some creamed cauliflower, and sprinkle with a bit more ground star anise and chives

17

Finish with a pinch of green sprouts, and cover with the yellow crab shell

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The third generation of Arzaks to run the eponymous restaurant, Elena Arzak has maintained the three Michelin stars awarded to the restaurant back in 1989 and kept the Arzak name at the top table of the restaurant world.

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