While you can get soft-shell crab until about the month of September, the best time of year is to get it between June and July. The local fish market that I go to just recently started having it in and since I was there yesterday I decided to get some. Ideally, if you can get the crabs live that is the best way for you to get them. Most fish places will then clean it for you, which usually involves them trimming off the eyes and mouth and cleaning out the gills. Soft-shell crab should be eaten within 24 hours of purchasing that way you can be sure that it is good and fresh. Most recipes you will come across involved sautéing or frying the crab in some way. I decided to use this recipe that I’ve found from Tyler Florence that makes a soft-shell crab BLT with a special lemon-pepper mayonnaise.
Soft-Shell Crab BLT with Lemon-Pepper Mayonnaise
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon crab boil seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium soft-shell crabs, cleaned and rinsed
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 soft bread rolls, such as brioche or croissants, split and lightly toasted
4 red leaf lettuce leaves
1 fine-ripe tomato, sliced
8 slices hickory-smoked bacon, cooked
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
To make the mayonnaise, in a food processor, combine the egg yolks, salt, dry mustard, and lemon juice; process together to form a stable base. With the motor running on the food processor, add a few drops of the oil through the feed tube, until the mixture begins to thicken. Begin adding the remaining oil in a thin, steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and pour the mayonnaise into a small bowl. Mix in the black pepper and the parsley, cover, and refrigerate. The mayonnaise may be kept for up to 3 days.
To prepare the soft-shell crabs, pour the buttermilk in a shallow bowl large enough to hold all the crabs. Season the buttermilk with crab boil seasoning, salt, and pepper. Lay the crabs in the buttermilk mixture and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Soaking the crabs in the buttermilk will help them plump up when cooked. Remove the crabs from the milk bath and let the excess drip off.
Pour 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan or large pot and heat to 350°. Put the flour in a pie dish or plate and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Dredge the crabs in seasoned flour to coat, shaking off the excess. Lay the crabs in the hot oil in a single layer without crowding; you may have to fry them in batches. Be careful since the crabs have a tendency to pop and spatter (if you have a splatter screen, now is a good time to break it out and use it). Cook the crabs for about 3 minutes on each side, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
To build the sandwich, spread the lemon-pepper mayonnaise on both halves of the toasted bread. Add the lettuce, tomato, bacon, and avocado. Lay a fried soft-shell crab on top and close up the sandwich.
I love the way this sandwich came out. The crab tasted great with the bacon and avocado and the lemon-pepper mayonnaise added just the right flavor to the sandwich. I did season the flour a little bit with some Old Bay seasoning to add some extra flavor. One word of warning when making the mayonnaise – when you’re going to use raw egg yolks, I would recommend that you use eggs that have already been pasteurized to avoid any risk of salmonella. You could also make the lemon-pepper mayonnaise by using store-bought mayonnaise and simply mixing and the lemon juice, dry mustard, pepper and parsley yourself and avoid the problem altogether. Mayonnaise itself isn’t that hard to make if you have food processor or a really strong wrist for whisking, so you should give it a try sometime if not this time. I also added a little bit of sliced red onion to the sandwich. I served the sandwiches with some homemade coleslaw and it was a perfect meal for a hot night.
That’s all there is for today. Check back again during the week to see what other recipes we decide to use. I did go shopping yesterday and I do have some plans this week to make some chicken, some pork chops and I did get some ground beef and some sausage, though I have not yet decided what to do with them. So check back and see what comes along. Until the next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!