Soft shell crabs!

Soft shell crabs are back on the menu again — such a great warm weather treat. I recently procured a half dozen from the Blue Water Seafood Company, and here’s how we served them:

The dish:
Tempura soft shell crab with smoked paprika aioli and fennel-grapefruit-napa salad (serves 3-4)

The ingredients:

6 small crabs
Powdered tempura batter from the Asian market (Foreign Affairs or Kim’s, if you live in Asheville)

For the salad:
1 pink grapefruit, sliced into supremes (which basically means to remove the fruit segment from the membrane —  reserve the leftover membrane so that you can squeeze the juice out of it)
1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed
pinch white pepper/salt
small head of napa cabbage (about a 1 lb. head)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 green onion stalks, sliced thinly on a bias
T of

Slice fennel bulb and napa as thinly as possible — I like to use a mandolin slicer. toss in a bowl with supremes and green onion slices, salt, pepper. Whisk oil and vinegar, honey together in a separate bowl. Add more oil or vinegar to taste if wanted, plus the grapefruit juice that you squeeze out of your grapefruit membrane. Toss salad, set aside. Adjust seasonings as necessary.

For the aioli:
2 egg yolks
2 cups of good vegetable oil, more or less as needed. I like to use a blend of just a little EVOO, the rest canola or peanut.
1 small clove garlic, minced
T smoked paprika

whisk egg yolks and garlic together
whisk oil into yolks in a thin stream, slowly
whisk until a thick mayo consistency is acheived
squeeze in juice of half a lemon
add paprika, salt and pepper to taste

For the crabs:
Make tempura batter as directed. Keep cold by adding some ice cubes to batter. Heat up frying oil on medium high until shimmering, just before smoking. There should be at least an inch and a hlf of oil in the pan, but crabs can be turned. Batter crabs and drop them into the hot oil carefully. Fry until crispy and stiff, golden brown. Serve over salad with aioli. Enjoy!


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