Crab Enchilado Empanadas with Avacado Cream #SundaySupper

FB_IMG_1452860957448As a kid, I hated how and where I grew up. Like most kids, I didn’t appreciate the routines, the rituals, the storybook setting, the food, the things that now, as an adult, I “get it.” As I began preparing this recipe, I’m reminded of the afternoons of my mom sitting with bowls of steamed crabs picking the meat from the shell.  

We spent our summers on an island just off the west coast, and we caught our own fish and crab.  Buying crab meat from the fish market was unheard of. Our house (the only house) sat at the end of  the island, and every morning, I carried theIMG_0887 bucket while my mom walked the grass flats dipping blue crab. Even at 4 or 5 years old, carrying the bucket wasn’t so bad, but I hated it nonetheless.  I hated walking in sea grass (I still do); I knew the crabs lived in the grass, and who knows what else, so walking in knee deep water, in flip flops, lugging a 5 gallon bucket of crabs was unnerving. (As a side note, wearing flip flops to walk in sea grass isn’t easy.  Many flip flops lost their lives.)

Looking back on those days, I still hate walking in sea grass, but I love crab and the spicy dishes that came from our morning walks. My mom’s spicy crab pasta, which she called Crab Chilau, and the Ybor City style Deviled Crabs were my favorite. I never knew that those crab dishes were anything special.  I never understood how much time she spent picking meat from the shells or the hours that she and our neighbors spent around a table hand rolling croquettes. I never realized just how spoiled I was.

As an adult, I’ve tried to create similar memories for my own children.  Our house on the island was torn down many years ago, and I don’t think walking the grass flats to find my own blue crabs will EVER happen, but we spend our fair share of weekends on the island,  and I hope that my kids will have as memorable meals as I did growing up.

Tonight, along with my friends from #SundaySupper, I will be LIVE! at Tapa Toro in Orlando for a Twitter Chat at 7pm.  Tapa Toro combines contemporary Spanish cuisine with unique paella, a vibrant tapas menu, and an extensive selection of imported Spanish wined.  Since our Twitter Chat will focus on tapas and appetizers and since we are host is one of the hottest Spanish tapas restaurants in Central Florida, I thought I’d share a Spanish tapas fusion recipe from my childhood–Deviled Crab + Emapanadas = Crab Enchilado Empanadas with Avocado Cream

IMG_20160511_185820Deviled Crab originated in Tampa during the Ybor City cigar workers strike in the 1920s. Traditionally made with blue crab, the seasoning uses a unique Cuban-style chilau (softito/enchilada) sauce, whose spiciness lends the “devil”  to the dish’s English name. Deviled crab is meant to be eaten with one hand.

Empanadas are a stuffed pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin Europe, Latin America, the Southwestern United States, and parts of Southeast Asia. Typically, empanadas are stuffed with meat and veggies.


5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

3 onions, finely chopped

1/2 red or green pepper, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, mashed

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

6 oz can tomato paste

1 lb. crab meat–claw meat is best–picked over and shredded

12 empanada discs

In a large skillet, saute onion, peppers, garlic, red pepper flakes in olive oil for 15 minutes over medium heat.  DO NOT LET garlic burn.  Add bay leaves, sugar, salt, and tomato paste.  Stir, cover, and cook 15 minutes over low heat.  Add crabmeat.  Cook 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes.

Fill each empanada disc with approximately 2-3 TBSP crabmeat filling.  Brush disc edges with beaten egg, fold in half, and crimp edges with a fork.

Heat  2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a skillet to 325 degrees.  Fry empanadas until golden brown.  Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

Avocado Cream

2 Haas avocados

juice from two limes

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until completely pureed.  Pour into a bowl and serve with empanadas.

**Follow Tapa Toro Orlando on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Tapa Toro is located on International Drive in Orlando at the I-Drive 360 area which features the newest attraction, the Orlando Eye, observation wheel.

For other great tapas and small plate ideas, check out these other Sunday Supper blogs and our event host, Caroline of Caroline’s Cooking.
Para Empezar, Las Tapas (Appetizers/tapas) –

Postres (Desserts) –

Bebidas (Drinks) –

Plus Alcachofas al Ajillo – Garlicky Artichokes – and Spanish Tapas Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board

27 thoughts on “Crab Enchilado Empanadas with Avacado Cream #SundaySupper

  1. Oh my goodness this is RIGHT up my alley! It’s so rare to see a meat-free empanada. I love that you used crab, and the avocado cream sounds like the PERFECT addition!

  2. What a fun recipe- and remembrance of your family! I love crab and avocados AND anything fried, so this sounds absolutely perfect!

  3. Great post! I can relate and my family is also devoted to Crab Chilau! So much do that I created a concentrated condiment with the core flavor of Chilau. My father was raised off of 11th Avenue in Ybor City, I can taste the deviled crab right now!

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