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Crayfish in Tomato Sauce - Cangrejos de Rio con Tomate


Cangrejos de Rio Cocidos - Boiled Crayfish

Cangrejos de Rio Cocidos - Boiled Crayfish (c) 2007 Rodrigo Martinez Licensed to About.com Inc.

Crayfish are called "cangrejos de rio" in Spanish - literally “river crabs." Crayfish are a popular Spanish food, a fresh-water cousin to the lobster, although smaller. The following is our family recipe for crayfish cooked in a simple sauce of tomato, garlic and white wine. Be sure to serve fresh French-style bread to soak up the tasty sauce.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 lbs. crayfish
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3/4 onion
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6-8 oz. dry white wine
  • 4-6 Tbsp. Spanish virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (Optional)


This cangrejo or crawdad recipe makes 4 servings as an appetizer or first course. Double the recipe if you will serve this dish as a main course and it will serve 4.

Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and finely chop the onion. In a large, deep frying pan or skillet, pour about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Heat on medium and sauté the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent.

While the onions and garlic are sautéing, chop the tomatoes into small pieces (about 16 pieces each tomato). We recommend that you use a portable cutting plastic board so you can easily catch the tomato juice and pour into the pan.

Add a tablespoon or so more olive oil and then add the chopped tomatoes with juice, as well as the red pepper flakes. Simmer on medium low heat, stirring often about 15 minutes. While simmering, the chopped tomatoes should make a sauce and begin to thicken a bit. Add salt to taste. If the sauce is too acidic, add a touch (1/2 teaspoon or so) of sugar.

If you purchased or caught live crayfish, boil water in a large stock pot while the tomato sauce is simmering. Discard any crayfish that are not alive. As soon as the water boils, add the live crayfish to the boiling water and cook until they turn red. After 2-3 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and drain water.

Add crayfish to the frying pan and stir well, making sure to coat the crayfish thoroughly with the tomato sauce. Serve immediately.

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