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Matoutou, or Matete de Crabes, the unconventional way…

Matoutou or Matete de crabes

Move over, bouillabaisse and cioppino – there’s a new seafood stew in town, and it’s got a story to tell. Hailing from the sun-drenched shores of the French Caribbean Islands, Matoutou, also known as Matete de Crabes, is an explosion of flavors and textures that will challenge your expectations of crab cuisine. Forget fancy presentations and delicate bisques – this dish is all about bold, unadulterated deliciousness, served with a heaping helping of Caribbean soul.

Matoutou, or Matete de Crabes, is a traditional French Caribbean dish made with crabmeat, mashed green plantains, and spices. It is typically served with rice and beans and is a popular dish for special occasions.

Breaking the Mold: What Makes Matoutou Unconventional?

Matoutou doesn’t shy away from getting its hands dirty, unlike its European counterparts. This ain’t your grandma’s crab boil. The star ingredient, fresh crabmeat, isn’t meticulously extracted and flaked. Instead, whole crabs are smashed open with gusto, releasing their sweet flesh alongside a potent, briny essence that forms the backbone of the dish. This unconventional approach may seem barbaric to some, but it’s precisely what infuses Matoutou with its raw, primal allure.

A Symphony of Flavors: What Goes into this Rice Feast?

But Matoutou is more than just crab in a blender. A vibrant orchestra of flavors comes together to create this culinary masterpiece. A rich tomato base forms the foundation, simmered with onions, peppers, garlic, and a generous dose of fiery blend of chiles, herbs, and spices that’s the secret weapon of this dish. Don’t be surprised to find unexpected additions like spinach, carrots, or bell peppers thrown into the mix – Matoutou embraces improvisation and celebrates resourcefulness.

The Ritual of this Rice Dish: A Communal Celebration

Matoutou is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. Traditionally served family-style in a large pot, it’s meant to be shared and savored with loved ones. Each spoonful is a testament to Caribbean people’s resilience and ingenuity, a story whispered through generations from grandmother to grandchild.

If you’re observing Lent, this is the perfect recipe to start your seafood Friday rituals. Matoutou, or Matete de Crabes, is a marvelous Caribbean dish pronounced just as it is spelled. It is typically made with a type of crab called Crabe de terre, or Cardisoma guanhumi, which is a white land crab that lives on the coast of North America.

So, are you ready to crack the code of Matoutou?

If you’re looking for a culinary adventure that’s as bold and vibrant as the Caribbean spirit itself, look no further than Matoutou. This unconventional rice dish is a testament to the beauty of embracing imperfection, of finding flavor in the unexpected, and of celebrating good food and good company. So, gather your friends and family, find a cold drink or maybe a cold Haitian cola, and prepare to have your taste buds tantalized by the magic of Matoutou.

Matoutou or Matete de crabes
Matoutou or Matete de crabes

The ingredients you will need for the Matoutou

Seafood:

  • Canned Jumbo Lump Crabmeat or Claws (fresh preferred): The star of the show! If you can find fresh crabmeat, that’s even better, but canned lump crabmeat or claws are a good substitute.

Aromatics and Herbs:

  • Lemon/lime juice: Adds a bright, acidic touch to the dish.
  • Scallions: Green onions with a mild onion flavor
  • Chives: Thin, delicate onion chives with a garlicky flavor.
  • Shallots: Small, mild onions with a slightly sweet flavor. 
  • Parsley: Fresh herb with a bright, peppery flavor
  • Fresh Thyme: Aromatic herb with a minty, lemony flavor.

Seasoning:

  • Salt: To enhance the overall flavor
  • Ground Black pepper: Adds a touch of heat.
  • Garlic cloves: Add a savory, pungent flavor

Vegetables:

  • Juicy tomatoes: Provide sweetness and acidity. You can use fresh tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes, or even tomato puree.

Cooking Oil:

  • Olive oil: Used for sauteing the aromatics.

Spices:

  • Whole cloves: Small, brown spice buds with a warm, aromatic flavor
  • Bay leaves: Large, fragrant leaves that add depth of flavor.
  • Hot pepper (habanero or scotch bonnet, optional): but adds a fiery kick to the dish. Use with caution!

Other:

  • Cooked white rice: to soak up the delicious crabmeat sauce.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your personal taste and preferences. Remember, everyone’s Matoutou will be unique!

Crab meat for Matoutou or Matete de crabes
Crabmeat for Matete de Crabes

Instructions for the Matoutou recipe or Matete de Crabes

  1. Drain the liquid from the crabmeat, if any. Add lemon or lime juice and set aside.
  2. In a pot over medium-high heat, add oil. Add shallots, chives, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, cloves, salt, pepper, hot pepper (if using), and bay leaves. Cook for about 2 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add crabmeat and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the crabmeat.
  4. Add cooked white rice and simmer for 4 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, cook the rice in fish or crustacean broth for more flavor. You can also use seafood seasoning.

If using real crabs:

  • Clean the crabs and douse them with lime juice (about 6 limes).
  • Crush them slightly and place them in a large stewpot along with the oil, chives, shallots, tomatoes, juice of 2 limes, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cloves, and seafood seasoning diluted in water.
  • Cook for 15 minutes over high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add hot pepper (if using).
  • Let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve with cooked rice.

Notes and Tips

Store-bought packed crabmeat can sometimes be substituted for fresh crabmeat. If you don’t live in a country or state where fresh crabs are normally available, packages or containers of jumbo lump crabmeat sold in markets ready to use are a great substitution. However, I strongly recommend using real crabmeat instead of imitation crabmeat. The real stuff is worth the extra cost and will make a big difference in the flavor of your dish.

My maiden voyage into Matoutou land was…spicy. The heat hit me like a rogue wave, sending me scrambling for an iceberg’s worth of water. Soon, my stomach resembled a swimming pool, leaving little room for actual food. Lesson learned? Less habanero, more Pikliz. That magical Haitian condiment was my life raft, rescuing the dish and my taste buds!

    For practicality, I’ve changed the recipe to use store-bought, ready-to-use packed jumbo lump crabmeat. For the hot pepper, you can either choose to remove it, leave it in, or add your own hot pepper to taste. Have fun eating it!

    I hope this blog post has piqued your interest in this fascinating French Caribbean dish. If you’ve enjoyed trying Matoutou, share your experience in the comments below! And if you’re still feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at making your own Matoutou at home? Plenty of recipes are available online, so get creative and have fun!

    Here is my recipe for Matete de Crabes made the jumbo lump crabmeat with fresh herbs and spice.

    Enjoy!

    DSC04056 e1424398656229 2

    Matoutou, or Matete de Crabes, the unconventional way

    Matoutou or Matete de Crabs, a delicious one meal, made with fresh spices and crabmeat, the unconventional way.
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 30 minutes
    Course Lunch, Main Course
    Cuisine Caribbean
    Servings 4
    Calories 240 kcal

    Equipment

    Ingredients
      

    • 8 ounces or 1 cup ready to use Jumbo Lump Crabmeat claws preferred
    • 1 tablespoon lemon/lime juice
    • 3 scallions
    • ½ tablespoon chives finely chopped
    • 2 medium size shallots sliced
    • 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
    • 2 sprigs thyme
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • Fresh black pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves minced
    • 2-3 juicy tomatoes seeds removed and quartered
    • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3 whole cloves
    • 2 bay leaves
    • ¼ teaspoon hot pepper habanero or scotch bonnet, optional
    • 2 cup cooked white rice

    Instructions
     

    • Drain the liquid from the crabmeat if any, add the lemon or lime juice and set aside. In a pot under medium high heat, add oil. Add shallots, chives, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, cloves, salt, pepper, hot pepper if using and bay leaves. Cook for about 2 minutes and add crabmeat. Let mixture cook under medium to high heat for about 5 – 7 minutes stirring very gently not to break the crabmeat too much. Add cooked white rice and let simmer for 4 minutes. Serve immediately.
    • Alternatively, cook the rice in a fish or crustacean broth for more flavors or use seafood seasoning.
    • If using real crabs, you will need about 8 crabs
    • Clean the crabs and douse with limejuice. (Will need about 6 limes) Crush them slightly and place in a large stewpot along with the oil, chives, shallots, tomatoes, juice of 2 limes, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cloves, seafood seasoning diluted in water. Cook 15 minutes on high heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and add hot pepper. Let simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Serve with cooked rice.

    Notes

    Cooking time does not include cooked rice. Use Pikliz instead of hot pepper (scotch bonnet or habanero)
    If you can find live crabs, try the recipe, taste better.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1gramsCalories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 14gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 2226mgPotassium: 379mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 749IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg

    Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.

    Keyword black rice, Caribbean Dish, Caribbean Recipes, Caribbean rice, crab meat, easy seafood dish, rice dish
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
    Tried this recipe?Mention @noubesscaribbean or tag #noubesscaribbean!

    Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.

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    Corn Allergy:

    Always choose ingredients without corn or corn derivatives.

    Originally published on February 20, 2015. Revised and updated.

    One Comment

    1. This looks lovely Gemma, I’m crazy about crab and so are the rest of my family – we are true crab lovers. It’s not the same as what you can get in the Caribbean, but what’s available in the diaspora will have to do I guess.

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