Monday, May 23, 2011

Fried Soft Shell Crab with and Creole Rice and Remoulade

Late spring and early summer mark the season for soft shell crabs, a treat I don't know if I had ever tried until I went East for college. But they are available here in St. Louis (from Bob's Seafood), and so I brought a few home one day for dinner. I don't love them sauteed, because I think they get a little mushy. Fried is really the way to go for soft shell crabs, though I do hear that grilled is also good. Dip the crabs in milk, then dredge them in flour (preferably Wondra), cornstarch, salt and pepper. Fry in a layer of olive oil, serve with Creole rice and remoulade. I served the crabs on a bed of baby sorrel and mustard greens, which provide a nice tart and spicy contrast to the richness of the crab. You will want to make the rice and remoulade before starting the crabs.

Fried Soft Shell Crabs (serves 2)
4 soft shell crabs, cleaned just prior to cooking
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour (preferably Wondra)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 inch of olive oil for frying

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil to 360 degrees F (use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature). While the oil is heating, pour the milk in shallow bowl. Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper on a plate. Dip each crab in the milk and then dredge thoroughly in the flour mixture, making sure all surfaces are covered.

When the oil is hot, place in the pan as many crabs as will comfortably fit without crowding. Fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until the crabs are nicely browned and cooked through. Transfer with tongs or a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate while you cook the remaining crabs. Serve on a bed of greens with Remoulade and Creole Rice, if you like.

Creole Rice (serves 2)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup white long grain rice, such as jasmine
Cajun seasoning, to taste (different brands or homemade blends vary greatly--I use MarketSpice Cajun Seasoning and I quite like it)
2 cups water

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and some Cajun seasoning (you can always add more later) to the pan. Stir to coat the rice in the oil and cook without water for 1 minute. Add the water to the pan, cover, and increase the heat to high. When the water is boiling vigorously, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce to low for 5 minutes more. Stir the rice, being careful not to break the grains much, taste, and season with additional Cajun seasoning as needed.

2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cajun seasoning, to taste
3/4 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except the oil in a food processor or blender. Process for 15 seconds. With the food processor running, add the oil in a slow steady stream. Once all the oil has been added, process for an additional 5 seconds to incorporate everything. The remoulade should be thick and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving time.

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