Sunday, July 22, 2018

Andrew Zimmern's Pan-Crisped Soft Shell Crabs with Lemon & Herb

Does Maryland have a complicated relationship relationship with soft shell blue crabs?  Maryland is the State who has designated the blue crab as the official state crustacean (Chapter 724, Acts of 1989, Code of General Provisions, Article 7, Section 7-303.)  But, Kit Witsom Pollard asked that question in an article she wrote over four years ago in the Baltimore Sun.  In particular, she raised the question of whether Marylanders, who love their blue crabs in hard form, get a little squeamish when presented with soft shell crabs.

Anyone who follows this blog should know that this particular Marylander has no issue when it comes to soft shell crabs. There are four recipes highlighting the different ways that one can make soft shell crabs.  There is the the grilled soft shell crab recipe, a curried soft shell crab recipe and a soft shell crab po boy recipe.  I also have a traditional pan fried recipe, which was part of my Iron Chef challenge to cook dishes with Vidalia onions.

While I love hard crabs, I love soft crabs even more.  Once you get past the prep work, you have crabs that are entirely edible.  No need to pick crab meat out of shells.  All you need is a recipe to cook the crabs.  For this dish, I found one from Andrew Zimmern, the host of Bizarre Foods and The Zimmern List.  I have to say that I am a big fan of Andrew Zimmern and have watched most of his shows.  So, when I found a recipe from him for soft shell crabs, I knew I had to try it.

This recipe calls for the most common method of preparing soft shell crabs ... pan frying or sauteing the crabs.  What makes this recipe different is the shallot/herb pan sauce.  The shallots, parsley and thyme added some great flavor to the dish, as did the lemon juice.  If only the soft shell season were longer and I had access to more soft shell crabs, I would be making this dish as often as I could. 

Recipe from Andrew Zimmern
Serves 4

12 soft shell crabs, cleaned and patted dry
1 cup corn starch
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
4 ounces clarified butter
4 tablespoons minced parsley
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2/3 cup of white wine
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

1. Prepare the crabs.  Clean and dry the crabs.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn starch, flour, old bay seasoning, salt and pepper.  Dredge each crab in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off any excess.  Set aside.

2.  Saute the crabs.  Preheat a very large saute pan over high heat for a couple of minutes.  Add clarified butter, followed by the crabs.   Cook for one minute and lower the heat to medium.  Cook for 2 more minutes until crisped.  Flip the crabs and cook until brown and crisp on the other sides, about 3 minutes longer.  Reserve crabs to a platter.

3.  Prepare the sauce.  Add the shallots and herbs to a pan.  Swirl to cook through, add the wine.  Reduce by two-thirds.  Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter.  Adjust sauce by adding the lemon juice and drizzle over the crabs. 


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