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Soft shell crabs


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#1 Wilfrid1

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:24 PM

Cooking tips welcome. Especially ways to fry them with a really crispy coating.
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#2 ampletuna

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:28 PM

I love soft shell crabs.

where did you buy them from? obviously you're in NY and I'm in London but do you buy them from Chinese supermarkets or normal fishmongers?
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#3 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:29 PM

David Rosengarten suggests placing a weight on them as they cook, i.e. a heavy pan, with a couple of cans in it. He was addressing the problem of excess liquid in the crabs, but I think his solution to that problem may also help achieve the crispiness you are looking for.

Alternatively, deep-fry rather than saute.

#4 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:33 PM

Soft shell crabs are available in season at all good fish stores in NYC, as well as in Chinatown.

At a birthday dinner for one of our members last night at Cantoon Garden, in Chinatown, a group of MF-ers had some excellent, deep-fried specimens.

#5 GG Mora

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:40 PM

Mmmm...soft shell crabs. I like them lightly floured and simply “deep-sautéed” in clarified butter. I think clarified butter is key; you can get it hotter than non-clarified without burning, which allows for a crispier crab. Finish with chopped shallots, capers and lemon juice.

#6 Wilfrid1

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:41 PM

Last night's dinner was what made me think of it (waiting for someone to post the menu of that meal so we can discuss it). Thanks for the weight tip - mushiness has been the problem in the past. I will buy from Chinatown if convenient, or pay slightly more at Wild Edibles in Grand Central.
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#7 Daisy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:53 PM

I think GG's method works best and I'll add the advice that if you are flouring the crabs use Wondra flour, which gives a crispier crust than regular flour.
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#8 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:02 PM

Yes, Wondra's great for flouring any food to be sauteed. I've never tried the clarified butter, but it makes sense to me, too.

#9 Wilfrid1

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:12 PM

Last night, the crabs were breaded rather than just floured, weren't they?
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#10 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:12 PM

I think it was a batter (thicker than that for tempura) rather than breading, and they were deep-fried rather than sauteed.

#11 Wilfrid1

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:14 PM

I have rarely had better.
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#12 Steven Dilley

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:14 PM

With the moisture content, I imagine it's a bit of a mess to deep fry them? I'm in Austin at the moment with a deep fryer at my disposal. But no crabs. :)
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#13 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:16 PM

They are fried as often as not in restaurants.

#14 S.C.S.

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 04:07 PM

I have to confess, before last night's crabs at Cantoon Garden, I had a salt-baked crab at NY Noodletown. I'm not sure if they were fried last year when I had them, but yesterday's were definitely mushy, with a muddy flavor. I want to go back during dinnertime & see if I can get them another way, because I remember liking them much more.

Cantoon Garden's crabs were indeed battered. A teensy bit too heavily, for my taste. They were perfectly crunchy, though, and were really meaty. They sieze up in the fryer, though, Steven. I prefer pan-frying with a weight to prevent that from happening.

#15 Lippy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 04:12 PM

I am already planning to make the most of my baseball widowhood tomorrow night by coating some soft-shell crabs in Wondra, sauteing them, weighted down, in clarified butter, and devouring them while still sizzling.