Deviled crab

Advertising "devil" (sic) crabs along 7th Avenue in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

A deviled crab (croqueta de jaiba) is a simple croquette made from seasoned and cooked crab meat which is breaded, rolled into the approximate shape of a rugby football or a small potato, and fried.[1] Hot sauce is often used as a condiment.[2]

Despite the name, deviled crabs are not at all similar to deviled eggs. The Spanish name translates to "crab croquette", which is a more accurate description. However, they are similar to boardwalk-style Maryland crab cakes. The main differences are the shape, the preferred method of eating, and the seasoning.

The "devil" in deviled crabs comes from a unique Cuban-style enchilada / sofrito sauce (locally known as "chilau"[3]) that is mixed into the crab meat during cooking to add flavor and spiciness to the dish. Some claim that the original deviled crabs contained more red pepper, making them much more spicy than the modern variety[3].

Another difference between a deviled crab and a crab cake is that, because it was designed to be eaten with one hand, the deviled crab is packed together more densely so that it does not easily come apart when bitten[3].


The dish originated in the Spanish/Cuban/Italian immigrant community of Ybor City, Tampa, Florida during a strike in the area's cigar factories in the 1920s. Since blue crabs were plentiful in the nearby waters of Tampa Bay and Cuban bread was cheap, they became important food sources for the striking workers. Local entrepreneurs combined these ingredients and began selling the instantly popular croquettas from pushcarts and bicycles along Tampa sidewalks[4][5][6].

Deviled crabs are still popular in the Tampa Bay area, especially in lunch cafes and restaurants which serve Cuban and/or Spanish cuisine in Ybor City and West Tampa.[7][6]

External Links

New York Times slideshow of Tampa's deviled crabs


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