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A Cook’s Tour of Mexico (1995) – Salpicón de Jaiba / Stir-Fry of Crab with Onions and Chile

March 2, 2012


Zaslavsky, Nancy. A cook’s tour of Mexico: authentic recipes from the country’s best open-air markets, city fondas, and home kitchens. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. P. 207. [TX716 .M4 Z37 1995]

By Kayla Floyd, an undergraduate nutrition student at UTSA.

I recently moved to Texas and had no idea how varied its food was. Everyone that I had talked to said that San Antonio offered the best Mexican food, outside of Mexico of course. With this in mind, I wanted to pick a recipe that incorporated the spicy flavors of Mexican cuisine mixed with ethnic ingredients that I grew up with.

Every region or country has a crop that is particularly abundant there. Crosby’s article (2008) stated that chili peppers are a key product exported from Mexico, especially the Capsicum annuum L. species (223). Surprisingly, the snacks and condiments associated with this ingredient have exceeded the consumption of tomato-based products internationally (221). Besides making our eyes water after too many bites, chili peppers provide nutritional benefits that include ascorbic acid, antioxidants, and carotenoids that are recommended for a healthy diet (Crosby 221-248).

Usually, when people think of Mexican dishes, tamales, burritos, or fajitas come to mind. For this assignment, I wanted to do something that was a little different; a dish that is not typically characterized as a Mexican dish per se . . . SEAFOOD!


Salpicón de Jaiba (from Restaurant Tlacotalpan)

  • 2 Tablesoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 pound cooked, flaked crabmeat
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat the oil or butter in a skillet and add the onion.
  2. Cook the onion, stirring, for 2 minutes, then  add the chile. Continue cooking until the onion is golden-brown.
  3. Add the crabmeat and parsley. Stir only long enough to heat the crab. You will not need additional salt with the crab.Note: The cookbook recommends serving this dish with fresh tortillas or warm tortilla chips and a mild tomatillo salsa.

In the Kitchen..

I chose the recipe Salpicon de Jaiba because it was a dish that included crab along with olive oil or butter, onion, parsley, and jalapeno chilies. That was it! I believe that this was a healthy choice due to the fact that it followed some of the dietary guidelines: there was no added salt, it incorporated essential fatty acids, and it had seafood. With three simple steps it took less than 30 minutes to prepare for an entrée or an appetizer.

First, I had to heat the skillet with the olive oil (2 tablespoons) and a large, chopped onion; then add the chopped jalapenos (2 peppers) into the skillet until the onions became golden-brown.

onions and chiles

Lastly, I added the crabmeat (1 pound) and parsley (2 tablespoons), then cooked until all the ingredients were heated enough to serve.

until onion is golden brown

There were a few drawbacks from this dish that may deter others from wanting to try it. One is that the recipe relied mostly on its spice from the chili peppers. Whenever I prepare my dishes I like to include paprika, salt, black pepper, Tony Chachere’s, and cayenne pepper. When only using the ingredients in this recipe my tastes buds were not fully satisfied. Second, there was not a lot of thickness within the dish unless more olive oil was added; the crab meat made it watery.  The paragraph describing related recipes to Salpicon de Jaiba introduced another recipe called Jaibas Rellenas (189); this is a stuffed crab-shell recipe that includes bread crumbs, which probably help to absorb the moisture. I would probably include this ingredient the next time I make this dish. All in all, though, this dish was quick and easy for a busy college student to make.

Works Referenced:

Crosby, K. M. (2008). Vegetables II: Pepper. Handbook of Plant Breeding, 2 (3), 221-248.

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