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Jaiba Recipe

The jaiba recipe comes from the Yucatán Peninsula in Southern Mexico.

What Is The Origin Of The Jaiba Recipe?

The name “jaiba” means “snake” or “cobra” in Spanish.

However, it was not until after World War II that the word came into common usage.

The jaiaba plant (Mimosa pudica) has been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times by indigenous people.

In fact, there are numerous myths surrounding this plant and its use as a love potion.

In modern-day Yucatecan cuisine, the term “jaibas” refers to any seafood dish flavored with tomato sauce and chiles peppers.

While the original jaiba recipe calls for fresh crabmeat, you can also find recipes using shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster, octopus, squid, and even oysters!

As far as the history of the jaiba goes, we know very little information about how it originated.

Some believe that the jaiba recipe came directly from Mayan culture because they were known to have eaten many types of shellfish such as snails, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and fish.

However, others say that the jaiba recipe may actually originate from the Caribbean islands where the Spanish settled during their colonization efforts in the 16th century.

There, the Spaniards introduced several new foods including beef, pork, chicken, and potatoes.

This was followed by other European settlers who brought over more food items like coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane.

Yucatan Region

Today, the Yucatan Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.

With warm temperatures year-round and lots of sunshine, it is no wonder why tourists flock here every summer season.

Many visitors choose to spend time at one of the beach resorts located throughout the peninsula.

One of these popular places is the town of Tulum which is just south of Cancun.

Traditional Jaiba Recipe

The traditional recipe for the jaiba uses fresh crab meat along with tomatoes, onions, garlic, green chili pepper, cilantro leaves, oregano, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper.

You will need to soak dried annatto seeds overnight first before grinding them in a mortar and pestle or blender.

Annatto is commonly found in Latin American markets and grocery stores all around the world.

You can also buy ground annatto online if you want to make your own.

Once you grind up the annatto seeds, add the juice to a medium pot along with the rest of the ingredients listed above except for the crab meat.

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the mixture thickens slightly and becomes fragrant.

Once cooked, remove the jaiba from the stovetop and place it onto a cutting board.

Using two forks, gently pull apart the pieces of crab meat so that they break apart easily.

Add back to the pot and stir well.

Serve hot with white rice and refried black beans.

How Did The Jaiba Recipe Come To Be?

The jaiba recipe has been around since ancient times, but its origins are shrouded in mystery.

Some believe it was brought over by Mayans from Central America while others think that it came from South American Indians who were enslaved in Mexico.

Regardless, this recipe has become popular throughout Latin America.

There are many different kinds of jaibas (pronounced “jah-bah”), depending on what type of shellfish you use.

Jaibas can range in size from as small as one inch up to two feet long!

There are also many versions of how they make them, making it hard to determine exactly where the recipe originated.

Some say it was invented during the time when slaves were used to harvest coconut trees, some say it originated in the central part of Mexico, and still others claim that it was developed by Native Americans.

In general, however, there are three main types of jaibas:

  • Jaibas made with blue crabs found along the coast of California, Texas, Florida, and other parts of North America.
  • Jaibas made with prawns or shrimp found at sea near the coasts of Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Jaibas made using clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.

(Note: All jaibas have shells.)

Who Created The Jaiba Recipe?

Jaibas originated as a way for indigenous people to make money by selling their catch to fishermen who would then sell it at market.

It was also common practice during this time period for families to share resources like food or cooking utensils when one family member came into town to buy supplies.

So, when someone had extra fish that they were unable to eat themselves, they’d give the rest away to others in exchange for some basic items like salt and peppers.

As fishing became more lucrative, so too did the amount of fish available, leading to an increase in demand for jaibas.

With all these new customers coming into town, local sellers needed to find ways to keep up.

Thus, the jaiba recipe was born.

In order to meet this increased demand, many locals began to create their own recipes based on what they knew worked well.

And thus, the traditional jaiba recipe was born.

Today, you can still find many different versions of the jaiba recipe around the peninsula, but most restaurants serve theirs using breaded shrimp instead of crab.

Some even use canned tuna (which has been pre-seasoned) in place of the raw fish.

But regardless of how it’s prepared, the original version of the jaiba recipe is always delicious!

What Are The Ingredients In The Jaiba Recipe?

The ingredients used to make the jaiba include white fish (usually snapper), shrimp, garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, salt, black olives, and coconut milk.

You’ll need at least 2 pounds (1 kg) of snapper or other white-fleshed fish that has been cleaned thoroughly.

You can buy precleaned snapper online, but it will be much cheaper if you catch your own.

Shrimp should also be purchased frozen rather than canned because they tend to have more flavor.

If you live near an area where people raise tilapia or catfish, this would work well as a substitute for the snapper.

Garlic must be minced finely by hand so that there are no large chunks in the final preparation.

A food processor would be best for this task, although you could use a knife instead.

An entire red bell pepper should be seeded and diced into small pieces after being washed thoroughly under cold running water.

Don’t cut them too fine — just enough so that there’s some texture when mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.

Tomatoes should be chopped up into little cubes before adding them to the mix.

Again, using a food processor will save time here.

Be sure not to add any liquid to these components while chopping them together – just puree everything until smooth.

Cilantro leaves should be picked off their stems, then coarsely chopped.

Cilantro seeds should be removed beforehand as they aren’t edible.

Lime juice should be squeezed into the mixture right away.

Lime juice imparts a great citrusy taste to the finished product, which helps balance out all those spicy flavors!

Salt and black olives should be added last.

Salt is important to bring out the savory flavor of the fish, while black olives provide a bit of body to the sauce without affecting its acidity.

How Is The Jaiba Recipe Prepared?

The first step to preparing this tasty Mexican dish involves cleaning the crabs.

To clean the crabs, you will need a large pot or container.

You can use anything that’s big enough to hold up to five pounds of live blue crabs (or more).

After placing the crabs into your pot, add two quarts of cold water.

Then, place the lid on top of the pot and set aside until it’s ready to be used.

Next, prepare all of the other ingredients needed to make the jaiba recipe.

For example, you’ll want to chop some garlic, onion, and green bell pepper before adding them to the pot.

Also, measure out one cup of salt and pour it into the bottom of the pot.

Once everything is added to the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook for about 30 minutes.

Don’t leave the stove unattended once the mixture has begun to boil!

After thirty minutes have passed by, remove the lid from the pot and stir the contents around.

Next, drain any excess liquid from the pot using a strainer, then discard the leftover liquid.

Place the cleaned crabs back into the pot, along with the rest of the ingredients already added.

Now, bring the temperature back up to high and continue to simmer for another ten to twenty minutes while stirring frequently.

Once it reaches the desired consistency, serve immediately as soon as possible.

What Is The Cooking Time For The Jaiba Recipe?

This recipe will take about an hour to prepare.

While you’re waiting, make sure your ingredients are ready so that you can start right away when the timer goes off.

You may also want to consider prepping some items ahead of time if possible — this way, it won’t be too much work while you’re waiting on the rest of the food preparation.

Step 1

  • Heat up one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add onion and saute until softened (about 4 minutes).
  • Stir in chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper, and continue to stir until combined.
  • Add tomato sauce, water, and lime juice, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover pot, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove lid, add corn kernels, and continue to warm through (about 5 minutes)
  • In a separate pan, melt butter over high heat, then whisk in flour until smooth.
  • Gradually pour in milk, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 2 minutes).
  • Keep stirring until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once sauce has reached desired consistency, remove from heat and set aside.
  • After the first 15 minutes have passed, begin preparing the crab mixture by removing any excess fat from the pan using a spoon or tongs.
  • Add crab to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding all remaining ingredients except cheese and sour cream.
  • Return pan to low heat and stir well to combine all ingredients together.

Step 2

  • Mix half of the cheese into the crab mixture, followed by the sour cream.
  • Divide mixture between two large bowls and top each bowl with the remaining cheese.

Step 3

  • Serve immediately!

What Is The Serving Size For The Jaiba Recipe?

A typical serving of this dish contains about 4 ounces (113 grams) of cooked crab meat, 2 tablespoons (28 milliliters) diced onion, 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) chopped garlic, 1 cup (235 milliliters) diced tomato, and two handfuls (about 20 grams) shredded cilantro.

If you want to make your own version, use these measurements as guidelines.

  • 4 ounces (114 grams) raw or cooked shrimp, lobster, scallops, or other shellfish
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) minced jalapeño pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 small can green chile enchilada sauce or chili powder
  • 1 medium-size ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

If you choose not to buy prepared ingredients, it’s easy to make this dish at home.

All you need is some crusty bread, a pot, and an immersion blender.

How Many Calories Are In The Jaiba Recipe?

Calories per serving range between 1,200 to 2,500 depending on how you prepare it.

A single portion of this delicious seafood dish contains approximately 1,300 calories.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) cooked white or brown rice
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) black bean paste
  • 5-6 ounces (150-180 gm) fresh lump crabmeat
  • 4 small ripe plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) freshly minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground coriander seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) tomato juice
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) water

What Are The Nutritional Values Of The Jaiba Recipe?

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving (4 ounces) of the jaiba recipe has 103 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram sodium, 11 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams protein, and 3 grams fiber.

In addition, it contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, manganese, copper, phosphorus, iron, selenium, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, riboflavin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, and vitamin A.

For more details on the nutritional information included in this recipe, check out the full list of ingredients below or visit the USDA Food Composition Databases page.

  • 103 calories per 4 ounce serving
  • 0 grams total fat per 4 ounce serving
  • 2 milligrams cholesterol per 4 ounce serving
  • 1 gram sodium per 4 ounce serving
  • 11 grams carbohydrates per 4 ounce serving
  • 4 grams protein per 4 ounce serving
  • 3 grams fiber per 4 ounce serving
  • B-vitamins: Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Folate, Thiamine
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Riboflavin
  • Foliate
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Thiamine
  • Vitamin A

Is The Jaiba Recipe Healthy?

Jaibas contain large amounts of protein and fat, as well as good quantities of carbohydrates and vitamins A and C.

They also have high levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.

In addition to being nutritious, jaibas are delicious!

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh crabmeat
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro


Step 1: In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and chili powder and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent. Reduce the heat slightly, then add the tomato wedges and stir together. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Set aside.

Step 3: Place all ingredients except for the lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper in a food processor and pulse several times until they form a smooth paste. If you don’t own a food processor, you can use a blender instead.

Step 4: Pour the sauce back into the pan, along with the reserved tomato mixture. Stir everything together thoroughly. Bring it up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Step 5: Remove the lid and bring it back up to a full boil. Turn off the stove and allow it to sit covered for another 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to develop further.

Step 6: Once the time has passed, remove the lid and bring the mixture back up to a boil. Season it with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to your liking. Serve hot with white rice and refried beans.

Enjoy this tasty meal today!

Jaiba Recipe

The jaiba recipe comes from the Yucatán Peninsula in Southern Mexico.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Jaiba Recipe
Servings: 6
Calories: 115kcal


  • 1 cup Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Medium cucumber
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Red onion
  • 6 Imitation crab sticks
  • 300 g Crab meat
  • 1/3 Lime juice
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1/2 Fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper


  • Drain properly any crab flesh from a can. Slice into tiny pieces.
  • Combine the diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, avocado, crab sticks, crab meat, jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro, and diced tomatoes in a big bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Wrap plastic wrap around the bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Add tortilla chips to the dish. Enjoy!



Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 425mg | Potassium: 422mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 256IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
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