After hearing about soft shell crabs popping up on menus around the city at the beginning of spring, I really wanted to try them out but the prices at these restaurants were more than I wanted to spend, so I decided to make my own. These crabs come into season at the beginning of spring and they truly are a seasonal treat because of the way the crabs are harvested.
When a blue crab grows, it fills up its entire shell and needs to shed this shell to continue to grow. This is when the crabs are harvested and the only time when you can eat them whole. Most reputable places will clean them for you which is much easier than having to cut off their eyes and remove their insides yourself. They will only be good for a day or two after cleaning but like most seafood, you probably want to eat it the day you buy it anyway.
These crabs are usually best breaded and pan fried which gives them a nice crunchy outside to contrast with their soft insides. I paired the crabs with a buttery brioche bun and topped the sandwich with garlicy ramps and spring onion pesto.
Ingredients: (yields two sandwiches)
2 Soft Shell Crabs
2 Brioche Buns
1 Bunch of Ramps
1 bunch spring onions, sliced thin
1 bunch parsley, leaves picked
1/4 C. Pickled Ramps, chopped
1/4 C. Hazelnuts
1 Clove, Garlic
1 Lemon, Juiced
1 C. Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Combine spring onions, parsley, ramps, hazelnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor and slowly stream in olive oil. Consistency should still be somewhat chunky but spreadable.
1. Heat Oil in a pan about 1/2 in. high. A pan with higher edges will work better with this shallow frying method.
2. Coat crabs in wondra flour and place in pan with hot oil until golden brown and crispy, turing once to brown both sides. Drain on paper towels and assemble sandwich.