Crabs in Pepita Sauce

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Crabs in Pepita Sauce is a national favorite dish in El Salvador. It is also one of the more popular dishes among tourists who visit the country. Pepitos translates in English to “pumpkin seeds” – and it is the pumpkin seed sauce flavor that really distinguishes Crabs in Pepita Sauce as a remarkably tasty and unique culinary experience.

Crabs in Pepita Sauce

(Photo Attributed to Author: M Toegiono from Tokyo Japan)

Crabs in Pepita Sauce Recipe-


(2 large servings)

  • 8 medium sized blue crabs
  • 1-1/2 oz. butter
  • 4 small tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and rough chopped
  • 2-4 Chinese or Thai red chili peppers, chopped fine, plus extra for serving
  • 1 cup dry-roasted pepitas
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves only, with stems reserved
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hearty bread, to serve as accompaniment
  1. Prepare the crabs; break off the tail flaps on the underside and discard. Slice the crab in half lengthwise, and then carefully pull off the back shells and reserve. Discard the soft gills and then rinse and discard stomach sac.
  2. In a large skillet over medium–high heat, melt the butter.
  3. Add the  crabs and reserved shells into the skillet, and fry, turning now and then, for 5-6 minutes, or until the shells take on an orange color.
  4. While the crabs are cooking, place the bell pepper, tomatoes, pepitas, chilis, garlic and cilantro stems in a blender, 1 cup water, and blend into a purée.
  5. Add the blended pepita mixture into the skillet with the crabs, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the crabs are thoroughly cooked through.
  6. Transfer the crabs to a large bowl and cover it to keep them warm.
  7. Turn the skillet heat back up to medium–high, and cook the pepita sauce for another 4 minutes or so, long enough  to be reduced by half. Season your sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. To serve your Crabs in Pepita Sauce, place four crabs on each serving plate, ladle some pepita sauce over them, and lastly garnish with a generous sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Serve a good bread on the side, to sop up the extra delicious sauce.

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