Soft shell crabs are a wonderful seasonal item & a true delicacy in their own right. They are completely edible, since they temporarily lack their usual hard outer shell. Here in the US, soft shell blue crabs are usually available in the spring & summer.
These crabs can be sautéed, pan fried, grilled or even deep fried – all of these methods are equally delicious, so the cooking technique is totally up to you here.
Soft shell crabs cook up very quickly & require very little work. But some minor cleaning is involved but if you are feeling squeamish – just ask your fishmonger to clean them for you ☺.
SPICY SOFT SHELL CRABS
6-8 small soft shell crabs, cleaned
3-4 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & very finely minced
½ cup rice flour
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp kala or goda masala (you can use garam masala)
salt & pepper, to taste
oil for pan frying (peanut, vegetable or canola)
fresh lemon or lime wedges for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
To clean a soft shell crab, simply fold back the top soft shell to expose their orange gills. Then just remove & discard these gills from both sides of the crab. Don’t forget to remove their eyes & mouth as well. Next, turn the crab over & fold back the tail flap – just pull it away from the body & discard. Make sure your crabs are thoroughly dry, pat them well with a towel & your crab is ready to go.
In a large deep skillet (a cast iron pan works really well) on medium high heat, add about ¼” of oil. Then in a large shallow baking dish, combine the garlic along with the ginger, rice flour & spices (turmeric, red chili powder, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, kala masala, salt & pepper). Then dredge the crabs in the rice flour mixture, making sure they are evenly coated on both sides. Shake off any excess flour & carefully add them to the hot oil. Pan fry them on each side for just 2-3 minutes until crispy & golden brown. Drain well on absorbent paper towels & sprinkle them with just a little salt while they are still warm. Then arrange them on a large serving platter, garnish with the lemon wedges & cilantro leaves. Serve with your favorite chutneys & sauces.