Lobster and Crab Enchiladas Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Chef John (Besh) and I go to his cabin every year and this is one of the dishes we like to create after a long day of hunting. One night, someone had brought in crab and lobster. So we asked the younger chefs to create something amazing. They did a simple dish with steamed butter and lemon. John and I, thinking they were there to impress us, decided to show them how it’s done and whipped up these lobster and crab enchiladas. Now, it’s something we’ll do every year.

Prep Details

Servings: 6


For the Salsa:

1 pound plum tomatoes (about 4)

3-6 chiles de árbol, depending on how spicy you like it

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Enchiladas:

1 pound fresh Dungeness crabmeat

3 pounds Maine Lobster, cooked, chilled, and shelled

2 cup Crema Salvadoreña (preferably Cacique brand)

⅛ cup finely chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Juice of 2 limes

1 cup Roasted Tomato-Chile de Árbol Salsa

1 teaspoon ground white pepper


12 corn tortillas

½ cup oil

2 cups Queso Quesadilla cheese (preferably Cacique brand)

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped for garnish

Olive Oil


Make the Salsa:

1. Preheat the boiler.

2. Put the tomatoes on a baking sheet and broil, until the tomatoes are nice and charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Take the tomatoes out, let them cool just until you can handle them, slip off the skins, and cut out the tough cores. Transfer the tomatoes to a big bowl (don’t you dare forget the tomato juice that has leaked out and reduced to awesomeness on the baking sheet), then roughly chop them.

3. While the tomatoes are broiling, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles (in batches, if necessary), flipping them over occasionally, until they just begin to smoke, about 5 minutes. Set them aside in a bowl.

4. Put the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan, set it over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Add the toasted chiles, tomatoes and 2 cups of water, bring to a simmer and cook for another 12 minutes, so the flavors come together. Let it cool a bit.

5. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper and puree until the mixture is very smooth.

6. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

7. Store the salsa in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to a week, or in the freezer for a month.

Make the Enchiladas:

1. Put the crabmeat and lobster meat in a bowl, removing any bits of shell. Flake it gently with a fork to break up the biggest chunks, but don’t mash it into a paste. Gently fold in the Crema Salvadoreña, chives, pepper, lime juice and Roasted Tomato-Chile de Arbol Salsa. Season with salt to taste. Set aside. (If you’re not using the mixture right away, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Bring it to room temperature and stir gently before serving.)

2. Heat oil in skillet. Using tongs, quickly dip each tortilla into hot oil for a few seconds and place on a large cookie sheet.

3. When all the tortillas have been dipped in the hot oil, drizzle the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. Fill one fried tortilla at a time with 1 tablespoon of the lobster and crab mixture and 1 tablespoon of Queso Quesadilla. Roll, and arrange seam-side down on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Crowd as many as you can in the dish, but have one layer only. Spread remaining lobster and crab mixture on top, generously sprinkle with cheese, and bake in a 350° oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm, garnishing each serving with cilantro.