The soft shell crab season along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida has already begun and will run through October- November. Soft shell crabs will be coming out shortly in the Chesapeake, along the East Coast and the New Jersey Shore.
This recipe for a Soft Shell Crab Sandwich is from Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America. In an excerpt from her book about this recipe Lidia says, “Soft shell crabs, when in season are a big seller in all of our restaurants. People just love them. We make a light batter, fry them nice and crisp and set them over a salad for our guests. During one of my trips to Baltimore I wanted to go to experience Crisfield’s in Silver Spring, Maryland, known for its soft shell crab sandwich. The experience was good: the soft shell, nice and crispy, was the best part. The sesame bun and the coleslaw were the usual suspects. In this recipe I had added my own twist to the bread and ingredients. Get a good semolina roll and top the crabs with an arugula and egg salad, an Italian American solution.”
Softshell Crab Sandwich
Panino con Molecche Fritte
Makes 4 sandwiches
To serve as a salad, double the salad and dressing and omit the rolls. Serve crabs on the greens with dressing dolloped on the side.
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 large hard cooked eggs, whites and yolks separated, whites finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon drained horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned (see note)
- Fine yellow cornmeal, for dredging
- 4 ounces baby arugula
- 4 seeded semolina rolls, split and lightly toasted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place garlic head on a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap the foil to seal. Roast in oven until garlic in tender throughout, about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the garlic head. Let cool, then squeeze garlic cloves into the work bowl of a mini food processor.
- To processor, add 6 tablespoons olive oil, hard cooked egg yolks, mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the horseradish and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Process to make a smooth dressing, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Set dressing aside while you cook the crabs.
- For the crabs, heat 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spread cornmeal on a plate. Rinse crabs after cleaning. With a little water still clinging to the crabs, dredge in the cornmeal, tapping off the excess. Add crabs to skillet and cook until browned and crisp on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful as the water in the crabs may cause the oil to splatter! Turn and cook until crabs are cooked through and crisp on the outside, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Drain crabs on a paper towel lined plate.
- To serve, put arugula and chopped egg whites in a large bowl and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread most of the dressing on the bottom of the rolls. Top with a crab and the arugula salad. Spread remaining dressing on the tops of the rolls and serve while the crabs are still hot.
Note: To clean soft shells, snip off the tip of the face with scissors. Pull out the spongy gills inside the sides of the bodies.
Recipe is from Lidia’s Italy in America, published by Alfred A. Knopf.