Soft shelled crabs

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
8 larges Soft shelled crabs
\N \N Cooking oil
3 larges Eggs; beaten
1 cup White wheat flour
¼ cup LeRoy's Cajun Seasoning or any Cajun seasoning of choice

Soft shelled crabs are a delicacies I learned to love when I was stationed in North Carolina while in the service. At that time they were only available at certain times of the year when the wind blew in the proper direction and moved the grass that was covering the molting young crabs.

Now like so many things in the ocean they are being farmed and are available most of the year. If not alive and fresh at least frozen. They can be sauted in just a little oil and eaten that way or they can be dusted in a plain or seasoned flour and sauted. They can also be deep fried in a seasoned batter, beer batter or just dusted in the afore mentioned flour's and deep fried. Probably one of the most common ways they are eaten is in a sandwich. That's the way I learned to enjoy them at Mason's Drive Inn in Morehead City North Carolina where I occasionally moonlighted as a short order cook when I had a liberty pass. (Carrie and Aulbert Mason are not of this earth any longer and their restaurant is gone but the memory of their soft shelled crab sandwich is alive and well as are the memories of the pretty young ladies that used to eat there.) The meat and taste are both light and delicate so you don't want to mask it with too much batter or breading. With that in mind the following recipe is one of the ways I deep fry them. You can also saute them using the same batter. The most important thing is to get a fresh live crab if you can. They should be odorless and alive. Size is the next thing to consider. The larger the better as far as I'm concerned. Obviously the larger ones are meatier. The shell should be soft. If the crab has not just molted the shell will be tougher and the crab is known as a "paper shell". That's because the shell will be starting to calcify again. Frozen ones are OK but the texture of the meat is not as firm. When I cook soft shelled crabs I clean them thoroughly. Some restaurants leave some of the viscera in them and this can cause them to be strong or fishy in my opinion. If nothing else, what is known as the "sand bag" should be removed. It's a round piece of the viscera located just behind where the mouth was located and cut off. Rest assured that when you eat my soft shelled crabs they are well cleaned. With all this in mind this is how I clean and cook my soft shelled crabs To clean- Lay the crab upright on a cutting board and with a knife cut the eye's and mouth off in one cut. Then lift the two pointed edges of the shell up and in toward the center exposing the gills. You can use your fingers to pull these off but I prefer scissors to cut them off clean. Next turn the crab over and lift up the apron. Using the scissors cut this off where it attaches to the body.

This apron will be much larger on the female crab. Turn the crab back over and very gently peel the shell back and with your finger under lightly running water remove all the viscera. You may have to make a cut with the scissors to open into the viscera. Rinse and drain, pull the shell back down over the body and dry well on paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use. To cook- In a large bowl mix the flour and seasoning together and set aside. In another bowl lightly beat the eggs and set aside. In a large fry pan heat the oil over medium heat. Dip the crab into the beaten egg, drain and then dip in the flour coating it all over. Shake off the excess. Place in the hot oil and cook until lightly browned on one side, turn over and brown the other side. The shell should be nice and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue until all the crabs are cooked and serve while hot. Serve with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or a dipping sauce of your choice.

Recipe by: LeRoy Trnavsky

Posted to MC-Recipe Digest by drleroy@... (LeRoy C Trnavsky) on Apr 28, 1998

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