Today we have a very easy to prepare, fancy meal, Soft Shell Crabs, Lemon Butter Sauce. A sort of rich delicacy unto itself, you too might agree that there is something entirely elegant about Soft Shell Crab.
The molted exoskeleton of the Soft Shell Crab makes it quite soft, with an ever so slight crunch, differing then from the flavor profile of those crabs whose shells have hardened to: Hard Shell Crab. Hard Shell Crabs are typically cooked in large batches, and especially if you live in nearby driving distance to Maryland, served on long rolled sheets of paper tablecloths alongside wooden hammers for removing the inner sweet meats between heavily coated, crusted bits of Old Bay seasoning. One might eat many crabs over the course of hours. In the case of Soft Shell Crabs, one Soft Shell Crab per person is quite filling enough.
Seasonally cherished by some diners at restaurants, mostly sautéed or deep fried, the Soft Shell Crab may be adorned with any number of garnishes and sauces. I’m in the camp when it comes to Soft Shell crabs that simple is best.
Soft Shell Crabs are seasonal with limited availability, late spring through early summer, if you can find them, though quite possibly this might be a bit easier at its regional source. Cleaning Soft Shell Crabs for preparation is simple, but nowadays it seems they are most always sold ready cleaned, and at any fish market the monger will always clean them for you right on site, leaving you to merely dip and sauté to get the essential job done. Enjoy your fancy meal in its limited season, quick and easy to prepare, and oh so elegant, Soft Shell Crabs, Lemon Butter Sauce.
- 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 cup Wondra flour
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3-4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- 2 lemons, juiced, strained
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 8 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, chilled until needed
- In a bowl large enough to hold the crabs one at a time, whisk together the beaten eggs with the water. In a bowl large enough to hold crabs one at a time, mix together the Wondra flour, Old Bay, and salt. One at a time, dip crab into egg mixture turning over to coat before laying on top of the flour mixture and lightly coating the crab, including all the claws, transfer to a baking dish, refrigerate for a half hour to set. Prepare the sauce. Boil lemon juice and white wine together until reduced to half, take pan off heat and whisk in a few bits of butter then a few more to emulsify the liquid a bit for absorbing the butter. Return pan to the lowest heat whisking in remaining butter a few bits at a time, turn off heat. Preheat a large saute pan, add in the butter swirling to cover the pan. Add in the soft shell crabs front side down, adjust temperature to medium to medium high heat, cook for 3-4 minutes, turn crabs over and cook another 3 minutes. Place pan into oven and finish in the oven for another few minutes. Pour strained lemon sauce onto individual plates, top with the cooked soft shell, sprinkle with some fresh parsley, serve straight away.