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The Hirshon Chilean Crab Casserole - Pastel de Jaibas

The Hirshon Chilean Crab Casserole – Pastel de Jaibas

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5 from 1 review

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh crabmeat (Dungeness or of equal quality)
  • 4 cups white breadcrumbs, chopped in a food processor without crusts
  • 2 cups whole milk (ideally from a Jersey cow) combined with 1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced without seeds
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (if unavailable, use regular paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry Chilean white wine
  • 1/2 cup shellfish stock
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons aji chileno
  • ***
  • For the aji chileno:
  • 10 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled


  1. To make the aji chileno: Cut the chile peppers in half, discarding all or almost all of the seeds. Marinate overnight or at least for several hours in vinegar to soften the skins. After marinating, discard liquid and purée peppers in a food processor with oil and garlic. Keep the aji in a sealed jar to add to the pastel de jaibas.
  2. To make the crab casserole: Clean the crabmeat, making sure to separate out any shell or cartilage. Mix bread crumbs and milk in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan and sauté onions, pepper mince and parsley with butter, garlic, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Deglaze pan with white wine and cook down for 2 to 3 minutes, adding the stock.
  4. Next, add in crabmeat, bread and milk mixture, and cream. Cook 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. Season with 2 teaspoons of aji chileno, or more to taste. Check overall seasonings and adjust to taste.
  5. By now the mixture should be moist and creamy, but not runny. If too runny, let simmer another 5 minutes until thickened. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. Divide mixture into one large clay pot, called a pomaire in Chile after the artisan town that specializes in producing them, or into 8 individual gratin dishes. (Editor’s note: intrepid chefs can even load the mixture back into the empty crab shells.) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours


  • Calories: 1573.58 kcal
  • Sugar: 13.96 g
  • Sodium: 2188.16 mg
  • Fat: 100.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 29.77 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.26 g
  • Carbohydrates: 103.89 g
  • Fiber: 8.74 g
  • Protein: 59.38 g
  • Cholesterol: 264.34 mg
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