Saturday, June 25, 2016

Soft-Shell Crab Toast

The first time I had soft-shell crab was in the summer of 1978. I was running the Perkins 'Cake & Steak account at the time and I had traveled to the Jersey Shore to meet with a franchisee out there. Besides the seven Perkins stores he owned, he also owned a high-end supper club. We were having dinner there and he insisted I try their specialty, soft-shell blue crab. Well, I tried it and instantly fell in love with the dish.

Soft-shell crab season runs from April through September. During this period, blue crabs lose their shells. They are harvested immediately, before they can grow a new shell. This means the entire body is edible. While a lot of stores offer them frozen, I much prefer mine fresh. Whole Foods is my choice for fresh soft-shell crabs.

And I like to prepare them just like I had it that first time on the Jersey shore. The crabs are charred under a broiler and then served on toast. The toast acts like a sponge for the delicious crab juices and heightens the crunch. This is Melissa Clark's recipe, however, I usually skip the sauce and just squeeze lemon over the crab toasts.

6 cups packed Italian parsley
jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 slices of country-style bread
1 large garlic clove, halved and peeled
6, 3-ounce soft shelled crabs
Black pepper
Lemon wedges

  1. In a blender, combine parsley, jalapeño, lemon juice and salt. Add oil and 3 tablespoons water. Purée until sauce is smooth, adding additional water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick yet pourable sauce. Transfer sauce to a bowl and add more salt or lemon juice, or both, if needed.
  2. Heat broiler. Place bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Rub toast with cut garlic. Drizzle with oil or slather with butter, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Lightly coat crabs with oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer, belly side up, to a large baking sheet (you can use the same one you used for the toast). Broil, turning once, until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Place one crab on top of each toast. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over each crab and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Wine pairing: A nice, oaky Chardonnay (a Ramey if you are really lucky)

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