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Cangrejo (crab) enchilado

    500 g crab meat or 6 crabs
    3 tablespoons of oil (extra virgin olive)
    1 teaspoon of vinegar
    ½ green pepper, chopped
    1 onion (red) chopped
    6 cloves of garlic
    100 g of parsley
    200 g tomato sauce (unsalted)
    1 pinch of sugar
    1 pinch of paprika
    1 bay leaf
    ½ teaspoon of ground cumin 400 ml of cooking wine or white wine
    1 beer
    Salt to taste
    Hot sauce (optional)

Cangrejo enchilado.
If it rains a lot on the north coast, then through Cárdenas and Caibarién the crabs come out and it is easier to catch them. These towns on the northern Cuban coast are famous for this crustacean, so much so that at the entrance of both towns there is a monument with a huge crab and its inhabitants are called cangrejeros.
My father was born in Cárdenas and although he soon moved to the east of the country, we always came back to visit family during the summer months and I remember the succulent crabs of epic proportions cooked in huge cauldrons with firewood in the open air, always a meeting point for the whole family, rue Neptuno, near the umbrellas of Versailles.
It was really a party to accompany the elders to look for dozens of crabs in the night, by the light of a torch, through the mangrove trees.
If it rained, then we could look for them in the streets.

Preparation :
Wash the whole crabs well under running water, detach the claws and crush them lightly with the pestle, as well as the breasts of the crabs.
If the claws are very large, you can divide them in half.
Prepare a sauce with the oil, onion, garlic, chili pepper and parsley, then add the tomato sauce, cooking wine, vinegar, paprika, cumin, bay leaf, pinch of sugar and spiciness. Add the crabs and cook covered over low heat for 30 minutes, occasionally adding a little beer to flavor. Let the sauce reduce to taste.
These crabs are eaten with your hands and teeth, with the sauce right in your face, so you can fully enjoy them.
If you have clean crab meat, however, proceed in a similar manner.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced pepper and onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes and add the garlic and parsley. Continue cooking for a few more minutes and add the tomato sauce. Saute for another 2-3 minutes and add the paprika, cumin, sugar and bay leaf.
Mix well and finally add the crab, vinegar and wine. Add salt to taste, cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until the sauce is the desired thickness.
Add some hot sauce, otherwise it's not cangrejos enchilado for real, and it's better if the taste is medium spicy.
This enchilado is delicious with freshly made white rice and fried ripe plantains, or with tostones, with corn tamales, with boiled cassava or with chicharritas. If you like beer, this is a good opportunity to down a few cold beers.
In the Palpite region, on the Zapata peninsula, it is a tradition to sell crab meat already clean and ready to cook. In this wetland area, crabs are very abundant throughout the year.
Ismary's specialty in Ciénaga de Zapata is precisely this finger-licking crab stew.
Photos: Internet.

Cangrejo (crab) enchilado
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