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Portuguese Recipe: Sapateira Recheada (Stuffed Crab)

Cooking 30 min Preparation 30 min 2 easy
Recipe type: Seafood Cuisine: Portuguese

If you’re not coming to Portugal for a sumptious food tour, then follow our recipe for a taste of Portuguese cuisine at home!

What makes Portugal such a treat is your easy and affordable access to seafood. With the coastal inhabitants having had a primarily pescatarian diet, this meant that nothing could be just “tossed” out. Such a recipe was made from crab where all the sweet meat, creamy insides, and bright orange roe come together, becoming everything that the adventurous eater craves! Then in the true spirit of “waste not, want not”, it’s served in the original crab shell. Served with a crisp Portuguese white wine, it’s absolutely delicious!

If you’re looking for more seafood recipes, check out our book on Northern Portuguese Cuisine, or book a custom Portuguese food tour with us today!


  • 1 frozen cooked brown crab, thawed (look below for live crabs)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons capers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon beer
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • pinch salt
  • fresh parsley


  1. After boiling the crab, open and remove the meat. Grasp the claws firmly and very close to where they attach to the body. Twist and pull to remove them. Repeat with the little legs. Set aside.
  2. To open the crab turn it over so the belly is right side up. There you’ll find a triangular shaped “apron” Fit the point of a knife in the line at the back of the crab (opposite of the mouth ) and carefully pry it up. It should pop open fairly easily. Remove this piece and look at the gills, they are feathery, gray and can be pulled off and thrown out. You don’t want them getting mixed with the good meat.
  3. There will be some meat and roe (bright orange-red in color) still attached to the part that’s been removed from the body that you can remove with your fingers or a small spoon and place in a bowl.
  4. Inside the body there will be some meat and more roe that can be removed from inside with a spoon and added to the bowl. Rinse out the inside of the body shell and set aside.
  5. With a nut cracker or wooden mallet, crack the shell on the legs and knuckles to give access to the meat inside. Remove the meat with the tines of a fork and add to the bowl with the other meat.
  6. Shred the crab meat in the bowl with your fingers. If there are big chunks, chop them with a knife on a cutting board and transfer them back to the bowl.
  7. Add the shallot, egg, capers, beer, mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika to the crab bowl. Stir well with a fork and season to taste with salt and parsley leaves.
  8. Spoon the crab mixture into the crab shell and serve with crackers or mini tostas!
  9. NOTE: If you’d prefer to use live crab, choose a heavy, “lively” one. Place the crab in a freezer for about 20 minutes before dropping them in to salted boiling water. Allow the crab to cook about 15 minutes per kilo (2.2 pounds). Be sure to let the water come back to a boil between crabs if making more than one.

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