Rice with scampi

The first recipe in the book T’ach comes from the province of Darién, the largest in the country, located in the eastern end of Panama, next to the border with Colombia. It is a recipe with some kind of river crabs and rice.

The first inconvenience I found here in Madrid was finding river crabs, obviously. The closest alternative would be crayfish or écrevisse in French. However, I was unable to get them, so I opted for scampi, which here in Spain are widely used to make rice as they add a beautiful flavour. But I recommend that if you find the real deal, use it instead.


  • 1 kg river crabs
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 6 finely chopped criollo peppers
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 3 cups of the shrimp cooking broth
  • 8 coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

Substitutions and additions:

  • Instead of shrimp I used 800 g of scampi
  • I substituted the criollo peppers with red hot peppers
  • For the rice I chose basmati and sautéed it in two additional tablespoons of coconut oil before adding the water from the scampi.
  • Culantro. I have been lucky enough to find a Galician farmer who sells culantro plants, but if you can’t find any, simply use coriander.


Wash the scampi (or crabs) and cook them in boiling water with salt to taste for about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it rest for a few minutes.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion, peppers, coriander and garlic. Reserve

In a pot, heat two more tablespoons of coconut oil and sauté the rice for a couple of minutes, then add the cooking broth and bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes (until the rice is done). Turn off the heat, stir the rice and let it rest covered for another 5 minutes.

After this time, mix the rice with the sofrito, check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary level if necessary, add the shrimp and serve.

According to the chef Collins, this recipe is typical of the Emberás tribe and river crabs are quite difficult to find (also in Panama!!) because you have to hunt them at night on the banks of the rivers.

I hope you like it!

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