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What is Chilpachole de Jaiba? (The Mexican Crab Bouillabaisse)

  • Joel CZ 
  • 4 min read
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Although its name may not ring a bell, chilpachole de jaiba is a typical crab soup from some Mexican coasts, especially on the Gulf side.

Since it’s cooked with fresh seafood, it is ideal for Lent and, due to its spiciness and satiating consistency, a great ally for any hangover.

Chilpachole is normally served in large bowls or deep plates with crabs cooked in the same broth and is usually eaten as a main course.

But what exactly is a Chilpachole de Jaiba?

what is chilpachole de jaiba
Source: lunamarina / shutterstock.com

This Mexican style “Bouillabaisse” is made with either crab, shrimp, or fish broth (or all of them together) seasoned with epazote, chipotle and ancho chili, tomato, and corn dough used as a thickener.

It is a ubiquitous seafood stew on the coasts of Veracruz and in several areas of Tamaulipas.

Some people like to add octopus, mussels, clams, and fish.

Its recipe is common knowledge, and although it is not exclusive to holidays, it is known as a remedy to recover from a heavy “cruda” (hangover).

According to the Veracruz intellectual journalist Francisco Javier Santamaría (1886-1963), the word chilpachole comes from the Náhuatl word chili, which means “chile,” and patzolli, which translates as “tangled or mixed up food.”

Crab Chilpachole recipe

what is chilpachole de jaiba
Source: Iwan_Rusly / shutterstock.com

Even if you are not in Veracruz or Tamaulipas, you can make this recipe in your kitchen.

Although it is not an exclusive dish for parties, the chilpachole de jaiba is ideal for getting up from a hard day, thanks to the spicy strength it acquires from the chili peppers used as part of its ingredients.

It is also ideal for winter and the rainy season when you crave something brothy and delicious.

Ingredients

The following ingredients are for four servings of crab chilpachole; take note so that when you do your shopping, you don’t miss anything.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 whole crabs
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 4 tomatoes cut into squares
  • 5 dried chipotle peppers, deveined and seeded
  • 2 guajillo chiles cut in pieces, deveined and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse pepper
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 4 cups fish broth
  • 1 cup crab pulp
  • 400 grams of shelled shrimp
  • salt to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
  • enough totopos (corn chips) for garnish
  • lemon to taste

Process

To cook a crab chilpachole, you must place a pot over medium heat with the oil.

Once it has reached a frying temperature, put the crabs in until they turn red.

Remove so that in this same pot, you put the onion, garlic, tomato, chipotle and guajillo chili, and the corn tortillas.

After they have changed color, you must blend all these ingredients with two cups of fish broth until you get a smooth sauce.

Once you have your mixture, which will give texture and consistency to the chilpachole de jaiba, you must strain it and then cook it with a bit of oil in the same pot until it comes to a boil. Remember to stir constantly.

Then add the rest of the fish broth, plus the crab pulp, the crabs, the fish, and shrimps; everything should be over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Now is the time to season with salt to taste.

You’re all set! Now serve your crab chilpachole, garnished with chopped cilantro and accompanied by a few drops of lime and tortilla chips.

I hope you like this recipe and that you enjoy it. I suggest you accompany with an ice-cold Mexican beer.

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