Is there anything better than soft- shell crabs in season? This recipe is easy and delicious. I found it years ago in Bon Appétit magazine. The best part: The originator is chef Cindy Wolf of Charleston.
Cornmeal-Crusted Soft-Shell Crabs with Lemon Brown Butter
1 cup buttermilk
4 fresh soft-shell crabs
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
peanut oil (for frying)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed
1 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 2-by-1/4-inch strips (about 2 cups)
Clean crabs, or ask your fishmonger to do it. Pour buttermilk into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Add crabs to buttermilk; turn to coat. Let soak in refrigerator one hour, turning occasionally.
Whisk cornmeal, flour, salt, and cayenne in medium bowl. Drain crabs; add to cornmeal mixture and turn to coast both sides generously.
Pour enough peanut oil into heavy large skillet to reach depth of two inches; heat oil to 360 degrees.
Meanwhile, melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about four minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
Working in two batches, add crabs to hot oil and cook until cornmeal coating is golden and crabs are cooked through, about 1 ½ minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Toss watercress and cucumber in large bowl; sprinkle with salt. Divide among four plates. Top each serving with one crab. Drizzle with brown butter. Makes four first-course servings.
Photo by Rita Mass/epicurious.com