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.
- For the Soft Shell Crabs:
- 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 cup Wondra flour
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, or a bit more to taste
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3-4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- For the Lemon Butter Sauce:
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- 2 lemons, juiced, strained
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, chilled until needed
- pinch coarse kosher salt
- Preparing the Soft Shell Crabs:
- In a bowl large enough to hold the crabs one at a time, whisk together the beaten eggs with the water.
- In another bowl, mix together the Wondra flour, Old Bay, and salt.
- One at a time, dip crab into egg mixture turning over and coating well before dredging with the flour mixture.
- Shake off any excess flour mixture from crabs then transfer to a baking dish, refrigerate for a half hour to set.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat a large saute pan on medium heat, add in the butter swirling to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Set the soft shell crabs into the pan top side down, 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.
- Preparing the Lemon Butter Sauce:
- Boil shallots, lemon juice and white wine together until reduced to half.
- Take pan off heat and whisk in a few bits of butter to emulsify the liquid a bit.
- Return pan to burner on the lowest heat, whisk in remaining butter a few bits at a time to create a smooth sauce.
- Sprinkle in the salt, whisk, check seasoning, adjust to taste.
- Strain sauce then pour evenly between individual plates topping with the cooked Soft Shell Crabs.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve straight away.