Chilean Crab Gratin (Chupe de Jaibas)
Think crab cakes turned into a creamy casserole with a crust of gratinéed Parmesan and you’ll get an idea of how delicious this classic Chilean chupe is. Chupes elsewhere in South America are soupy, but Chileans like theirs dense and hearty. The recipe is adapted from Pilar Rodriguez, a chef and self-described culinary ambassador of Chile.
- 1½ pounds crabmeat
- 4 cups white bread crumbs (from day-old bread)
- 2 cups milk
- ¾ cup cream
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon merken (see note)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons clam juice
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove any bits of shell or cartilage from the crabmeat and set aside. In a small bowl, stir the bread crumbs, milk, and cream together, and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and saute the onion, garlic, paprika, merken, and salt and pepper to taste until the onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the white wine. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the clam juice, then the crab and the bread crumb mixture. Cook, stirring, another 5 minutes.
- Check the seasoning; the texture should be moist and creamy, but not runny. If it’s too loose, let it reduce another 5 minutes. Divide the crab mixture among eight individual ovenproof gratin dishes. Sprinkle each with Parmesan and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Merken, a spice blend of dried and smoked ají cacho de cabra (goat’s horn chiles), toasted coriander seed, and salt, from Chile, adds just enough spice and nuance to enhance the sweetness of this crab dish without overwhelming it. It is available at tienda.com
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