Tempura Soft-Shell Crab
I confess: I'm guilty.
I've become a serious soft-shell crab addict.
Ever since I realized that soft-shell crab is a lovely item available here on the East Coast, I've ordered it every time I see it on a restaurant menu.
What is it about soft-shell crab that's so delicious? The legs are usually crunchy, but that's not it. It must be the succulent, tender middle that carries delicate sweet crab flavor with it. Oh, and the fact that they're usually deep fried probably helps their greatness too. I know that part of the fun of eating crab is cracking the shells, but not having to do that yields bonus points for lazy eaters like me.
Soft-Shell Crab with Corn Risotto
For awhile, I've stuck to my guns as a native West Coast transplant and said that Dungeness crab reigns supreme. I've always loved it over regular blue crab, Alaskan king crab, or even stone crab. Crabs out here are too small or their meat is just not as flaky and sweet as Dungeness. But while I still dearly love the Dungeness, soft-shell crab has started to work its way up on the totem pole.
Here are some of the places I've had it at recently. The season will end soon, so act quickly, and remember to call beforehand to make sure they have it on the menu.
Boston: Lunch at L'Espalier had a tempura soft-shell crab with pineapple relish starter. The darling bargain in town (around $17) was the salt and pepper soft-shell crab at Taiwan Café in Chinatown, complete with 3-4 whole crabs, cut up and fried with seasoned salt. Bin 26 had one of my favorites, a perfectly juicy pan-fried crab on top of arugula, shaved fennel, and pecorino(?) cheese.
Soft-Shell Crab with Arugula and Chickpeas
Washington, DC: Firfely's version was the most playfully plated, with the crab standing proud and tall on a bed of arugula and chickpeas. The lounge at Citronelle won for the best accompaniment: a corn "risotto" with rich sweet corn and tiny pieces of pasta.
All this talk of soft-shell crab is making my mouth water. Unfortunately, I've been having a difficult time locating them at seafood shops here in DC. But I'll be back in Boston tomorrow and will have to hunt them down so that I can make my own soft-shell crab po' boy. Yum.