Today's blog post is going to be a first for me. I'm going to go over how to clean and cook soft shell crabs the way I was taught growing up, but I have my own twist on it as well.
First off we gotta clean these water spiders, I mean crabs. Get a good pair of scissors and trim the... uhh... genitals.
This is brutal stuff! Luckily crabs are coming back in the Chesapeake and will produce more if we better protect their habitats. They are truly insects of the sea. Ok, so now cut off the face...
Ugh! Then snip out the gills... all while it's alive -- this MUST be done. One, you do not want to eat the eyes, mandibles, privates, or gills. Two, keeping it alive while you trim and clean will preserve its flavor and freshness.
Now to batter. My personal twist is... CORN MEAL!
For the dredging process you want to set up 3 dishes and stage flour, two whisked eggs, and corn meal or anything that will bring a crunch to it. I've used panko in the past as well. Remember to season your flour! Salt and pepper or if you are a Marylander, Old Bay, hon!
Just line them up so the crab ends in the frying pan.
I use peanut oil because it fries at high temperatures and adds the least amount of oil flavor. These will need to be flipped, I would say about 5 minutes on each side with the oil at 375º.
Look out for pops from the pan. Water inside the crab becomes explosive and it will surprise you! Once the bubbles slow downed and you've flipped, put them on a paper bag (way less sticky than a paper towel).
Now this is where you can serve it anyway you want to. Most people in Maryland eat these bad boys or girls on a sandwich. You can also make an entree out of it, like I did, and put them on top of some kind of mash. In this case Jess made mashed garlic cauliflower with a side of asparagus. Enjoy the season while it lasts!