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Vi Shallow-Fried Soft Shell Crab

XVOO Shallow-Fried Soft Shell Crab with

Shaved Fennel, Arugula, Curry peppers and Citrus Vinaigrette


Soft shell crabs are just what they sound like: crabs with soft shells, harvested just after their hard shell was molted. The best time to taste them is in early summer when they are shipped live, and cooked within hours of cleaning. Frozen soft shells are available year round however and are very good-- particularly if the Chesapeake Bay is 1600 miles away.

Kumquats are available from late fall to early summer, they are fun to eat because you don't peel them, the skin is sweet and the flesh is slightly sour. Be careful of the seeds though!

Fennel is the bulb of the fennel plant, more easily known for its aromatic seeds. The texture is similar to celery, but the flavor and aroma is anise.

I developed this dish for an olive oil company years ago, and liked it so much that I thought you would too. The olive oil lends a sharpness to the flavor of the crab. Olive oil is actually a very good frying oil, it has a high smoking point and is monounsaturated so you can tell your doctor that you are eating healthy. The downside is that much of its delicate flavor and aroma is lost after heating the oil so work fast.



For the curry peppers:

1 ea. red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 T. capers

1 T. red pepper flakes

½ T. curry powder

1 T. mayonnaise

1 T. lemon juice

3 T. olive oil

as needed: sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Pulse all ingredients in blender until finely chopped. Let stand for 5 minutes and strain through cheesecloth. Discard liquid, reserve pulp in covered container.


For the vinaigrette:

4 T. orange juice

1 tsp. orange zest

2-3 ea. sliced kumquats

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. local, unpasteurized honey

4 T. extra virgin oil

Combine ingredients and season to taste. Strain.

So this vinaigrette is nice with the arugula which has a peppery flavor because the oil and orange juice tame it a bit.


For the Crab:

1 ea. jumbo soft shell crab, cleaned

as needed: buttermilk (for marinating)

seasoned flour (for dredging)

1 cup olive oil

1 handful arugula, fresh

1/2 cup fennel bulb, sliced very thin


  1. Marinate crab in buttermilk for 1 hour, drain and dredge in seasoned flour.

  2. In small pan, heat oil to 325°F. Carefully place crab in pan and shake pan gently to prevent sticking. Fry for 2 minutes or until crab begins to crisp and turn golden. Fry 1 minute longer and remove from oil. Drain well and keep hot. Reserve oil for other cooking.


To plate:

  1. Toss arugula in 1/2 Tbs. of vinaigrette and place in center of plate. Using two spoons, fold the curry peppers into an oval shape and gently place anywhere on the plate. Place fried crab atop arugula and spoon additional vinaigrette around as desired. Garnish with shaved fennel and additional cumquats. Serve immediately and enjoy!



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