Crab Chilau (Spicy Red Crab Sauce Tampa Style)
In the early days of Tampa, the cigar industry attracted immigrants from Cuba, Sicily and Spain. Before the days of trendy “fusion cuisine,” the immigrants were blending flavors in their cooking. Crab was a staple used in local recipes of all ethnicities because the waters of Tampa Bay were plentiful with blue crab. Every major ethnic group in Tampa ate this dish. They called it shelah, enchilado or chilau. It all meant the same thing-—blue crabs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce served over pasta. This version gets its heat from the Green Chili Olive Oil and we also like to use the Espresso Balsamic for richness—paying tribute to the Cuban coffee that Tampa is also known for.
1 large onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup Baklouti Green Chili Olive Oil
2 (28-ounce) cans of whole tomatoes,
pureed in a blender
1/2 cup Espresso Balsamic Vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 pound of fresh crabmeat
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, warm Green Chili Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, Espresso Balsamic and bay leaves. Season again with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Fold in the crab meat and allow to cook again for another 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.