Hello, Good News! Welcome to another article where we share with you some of the best recipes from around the world. Today, we are going to introduce you to a regional dish from Florida that is very popular with the Spanish community. It’s called crab shala, and it’s a mouthwatering combination of blue crabs, tomato sauce, and green bell peppers. If you love seafood and spicy flavors, you will love this dish!
Crab shala is also known as crab chilau or crab enchilado, and it has a long history in Florida. It is believed that it originated from the Cuban immigrants who settled in Tampa Bay in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They brought with them their culinary traditions, including a dish called cangrejo enchilado, which means spiced crab. This dish was adapted to the local ingredients and preferences, and became crab shala, a staple of the Floridian cuisine.
What You Need to Make Crab Shala
To make crab shala, you will need some fresh blue crabs, which are abundant in the coastal waters of Florida. You can catch them yourself using a net or a string with some bait, or buy them from a seafood market. You will need to clean them well and remove the back shell, the lungs, and the mouth parts. You can also crack the claws and break the body into two pieces to make it easier to eat later.
You will also need some basic ingredients for the sauce, such as olive oil, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. You can use any hot sauce you like, but Tabasco or Crystal are common choices in Florida. You will also need some Old Bay seasoning or Zatarain’s crab boil seasoning to add some extra flavor to the crabs and the sauce.
How to Cook the Crabs
The first step is to cook the crabs in boiling water with some Old Bay or Zatarain’s seasoning. This will give them a nice color and aroma. You can use a large pot or a stockpot for this. Bring the water to a boil and add about 3 tablespoons of seasoning per gallon of water. Then carefully drop the crabs into the water and cook them until they turn pink, which should take about 10 minutes.
Once the crabs are cooked, drain them and place them in cold water to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Then you can proceed to clean them and prepare them for the sauce. Alternatively, you can cook the crabs the day before and refrigerate them overnight.
How to Make the Sauce
The next step is to make the sauce for the crab shala. You will need a large skillet or a Dutch oven for this. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until they are soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Then add the tomatoes with their juice, the tomato paste, the hot sauce, the sugar, the bay leaves, the oregano, and some salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer until it thickens, about 2 hours.
You can also make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. This will allow the flavors to meld together and make it even more delicious.
How to Combine the Crabs and the Sauce
The final step is to combine the crabs and the sauce in a large pot or a baking dish. You can either add whole crabs or just crab meat to the sauce, depending on your preference. If you use whole crabs, make sure they are well coated with the sauce. Then cover the pot or dish with a lid or foil and heat it over low heat or in a preheated oven at 350°F until everything is hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Your crab shala is now ready to serve! You can enjoy it with some cooked spaghetti or rice on the side, and some crusty bread to soak up the sauce. Don’t forget to have some nut crackers, butter knives, napkins, and an old shirt handy because this dish can get messy!
Crab Shala Nutrition Facts
Crab shala is not only delicious but also nutritious. It is high in protein, low in fat, and contains no carbohydrates. It also provides several vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your health. Here is a breakdown of the nutrition facts for one serving of crab shala (about 1 cup of sauce with 4 ounces of crab meat and 1 cup of cooked spaghetti):
||% Daily Value
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids
|Vitamin A (RAE)
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Frequently Asked Questions About Crab Shala Recipe
What kind of crabs can I use for crab shala?
You can use any kind of crabs that are available in your area, but blue crabs are the traditional choice for this dish. They have a sweet and delicate flavor that goes well with the tomato sauce. You can also use snow crabs, king crabs, or Dungeness crabs, but they may have a different texture and taste.
How do I clean the crabs before cooking them?
You need to clean the crabs well before cooking them to remove any dirt, sand, or bacteria. You can do this by rinsing them under cold running water and scrubbing them with a brush. Then you need to remove the back shell by lifting it from the rear end and pulling it off. You also need to remove the lungs, which are the feathery-looking organs on the sides of the body, and the mouth parts, which are the small appendages near the eyes. You can use a knife or scissors to cut them off. You can also crack the claws and break the body into two pieces to make it easier to eat later.
Can I make crab shala without tomato sauce?
You can make crab shala without tomato sauce, but it will have a different flavor and appearance. You can use chicken broth, white wine, or water as a substitute for the tomato sauce, and add some lemon juice, vinegar, or Worcestershire sauce for some acidity. You can also add some herbs and spices, such as parsley, basil, thyme, cumin, or paprika, for some extra flavor.
How do I store and reheat leftover crab shala?
You can store leftover crab shala in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat it, you can either microwave it in a microwave-safe dish for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, or heat it in a pot over low-medium heat until hot and bubbly. You may need to add some water or broth if the sauce is too thick.
What can I serve with crab shala?
Crab shala is a versatile dish that can be served with various accompaniments. Some of the most common ones are cooked spaghetti or rice, which can absorb the sauce and make a filling meal. You can also serve it with some crusty bread, such as French baguette or Cuban bread, which can be used to scoop up the sauce and the crab meat. Some people also like to serve it with some salad, such as coleslaw, green salad, or potato salad, to add some freshness and crunch. Another option is to serve it with some raita, which is a yogurt-based condiment that can balance the spiciness of the dish.
What are the health benefits of eating crab?
Crab is a nutritious food that can provide many health benefits. It is high in protein, which can help build and repair muscles, bones, and tissues. It is low in fat and calories, which can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve brain and heart health. Crab also contains several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, copper, and iodine, which can support the immune system, metabolism, thyroid function, and wound healing.
How do I make crab shala more spicy or less spicy?
You can adjust the spiciness of crab shala according to your taste by adding more or less hot sauce to the sauce. You can also use different types of hot sauce, such as sriracha, habanero, or ghost pepper, to vary the level and flavor of heat. Another way to make crab shala more spicy is to add some fresh or dried chili peppers, such as jalapeños, serranos, or cayennes, to the sauce or the crabs. To make crab shala less spicy, you can reduce the amount of hot sauce or omit it altogether. You can also add some sugar, honey, or ketchup to the sauce to sweeten it and counteract the heat.
Can I freeze crab shala for later use?
You can freeze crab shala for later use, but you may notice some changes in the texture and flavor of the dish. The crabs may become tough and rubbery, and the sauce may separate or become watery. To prevent this from happening, you should freeze crab shala in an airtight container or a freezer bag with as little air as possible. You should also label and date the container or bag and use it within 3 months. To thaw crab shala, you should transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight or for several hours. Then you can reheat it in a pot over low-medium heat or in a microwave-safe dish for a few minutes.
What are some variations of crab shala?
Crab shala is a dish that can be modified in many ways to suit your preferences and availability of ingredients. Here are some variations of crab shala that you can try:
– Shrimp shala: You can substitute shrimp for crabs or use both seafoods together. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp that are peeled and deveined. You can either cook them separately in boiling water with some seasoning or add them directly to the sauce and cook them until they turn pink.
– Lobster shala: You can substitute lobster for crabs or use both seafoods together. You can use fresh or frozen lobster tails that are thawed and cut into chunks. You can either cook them separately in boiling water with some seasoning or add them directly to the sauce and cook them until they are tender.
– Chicken shala: You can substitute chicken for crabs or use both meats together. You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs that are cut into bite-sized pieces. You can either cook them separately in a skillet with some oil until they are browned and cooked through or add them directly to the sauce and cook them until they are done.
– Vegetable shala: You can add some vegetables to crab shala or make it vegetarian by omitting the crabs. You can use any vegetables you like, such as carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, corn, peas, or beans. You can either cook them separately in a skillet with some oil until they are tender-crisp or add them directly to the sauce and cook them until they are soft.
We hope you enjoyed this article about crab shala recipe and learned how to make this delicious Florida seafood dish at home. Crab shala is a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be served with various accompaniments and customized to your taste. It is also nutritious and easy to make with simple ingredients. If you love crab shala, you should also check out our other articles about seafood recipes, such as crab cakes, crab bisque, and crab salad. Thank you for reading and happy cooking!