Easy Soft Shell Crab Recipes? And what to serve with it?
i'm doing a dinner party for 6 this sunday and would love to make soft shell crab. i've heard it's not as hard as it seems. Does anyone have a yummy, but not too complicated recipe? Also, what should I serve with it? Thanks!
Also, I am in the LA area, and any advice on where to procure the crustacean would be awesome. I'm thinking SM seafood or Fish King.
I love soft shell crabs and after making them at home have pretty much decided it is something best left to restaurants with big commercial deep fryers or maybe if you have a turkey fryer and can cook them out side. I have found them to be so moist that sauteeing or deep frying (my favorite) is horrendously messy.
But if you are keen on doing it yourself you will need about 2 lg. softshells perperson. If they have not been cleaned and you can't get the store to do it for you, then lay them on their backs and lift the apron off it will be kind of T or Y shape depending on sex. Go inside the crab and pull out all of those grey finger kind of things and remove the eyes. Pat the inside as dry as you can with paper towels and then coat them well with seasoned flour. Some are fine with just salt and pepper and some like to add some Old Bay and fry in oil or shortenng in an iron skillet over medium heat about 8 minutes a side or until crisp and nicely browned. A squeeze of lemon is good or tartar sauce. I love them as sandwiches and it is important not to use "good" bread for them but the Wonder type stuff salthered with mayo and some ice berg lettuce and a squeeze of lemon. The bread is only a vehicle to get the crab to your mouth and should not interfere with the flavor of the crab.
My golden rule with softshells is simplest is best. I coat them lightly with flour, then pan saute them in butter and olive oil. A squeeze of lemon, maybe a sprinkling of fresh thyme, and voila. Also, here is a tip from a chef friend -- use a straight pin to pierce tiny holes into the claws -- that way, they won't burst and create a huge splatter.
Softshell crabs are soo wonderful that you hardly have to do anything to them. Clean them (i.e. remove the lungs and chop off the eyes - if you like you can also remove the tamale) and dust them with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper (szechuan peppercorns add a nice touch) Fry them in a cast iron skillet with about 1/2 inch of canola oil - approximately 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on size). Let them rest on some paper towels before plating.
I've been grilling mine lately. A little drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper, and grill for 2-3 mintes/side. They do cook fast, so watch em!
I serve over a bed of baby arugula--or use greens of your choice. top with a simple vinegarette, and enjoy.
The problem with doing soft shells for a dinner party is that they really are best served immediately after being cooked. That means you have to be in the kitchen after your guests arrive and you're cooking while they're eating their appetizers. It makes for a bit of a flurry, getting the crabs done and onto the table at the right time.