Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Panko-Crusted Soft Shell Crab with Spicy Aioli

Summer continues to blaze on in SoCal, and that means hot, hot, HOT temperatures, creeping into the triple digits, and the faint smell of fire on the smog-filled air. Ahh, the joys of Los Angeles! The Monster and I are going to go huddle in my one air conditioned room, but first I want to share a new recipe with you divas!

Summer, besides being synonymous with hot weather and wild fires, also brings soft shell crabs into our lives! Ever wonder what a soft shell crab is exactly? Well, crabs do a nifty thing called molting where they shed their shells and then harden into their new shells. However, for a few precious hours, they are "soft" and that's when they're harvested to be eaten! The great thing about them, is after their gills are removed and and they're cleaned, they can be eaten whole, for lots of extra crabby goodness. While there are other methods of preparing them, I think they taste the best when they're fried. For breading, I prefer using panko, a thick Japanese breadcrumb.

I purchased my soft shell crabs at Fish King and gladly accepted their offer to clean them for me (they'll also bread and fry them for you for an extra $1). To cook them, I breaded and fried them in a saute pan, topped them with a spicy aioli sauce and served them over a generous portion of watercress! The result was one of the most delicious meals I've had all summer long. Just writing it up right now is making my mouth water. So without further ado, here's my recipe!

Note: If soft shell crabs aren't available, shrimp would make a great substitute in this recipe.

Domestic Diva's Panko-Crusted Soft Shell Crab with Spicy Aioli

2 soft shell crabs, cleaned
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (regular will work, too)
1 cup flour (I used a spelt flour)
1 egg, whisked
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt and pepper
2 cups watercress

spicy aioli:
2 egg yolks
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4-5 tbsp lemon juice (fresh is possible)
1 1/2 cups olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt & pepper


To make the spicy aioli, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Then, slowly add the olive oil, a little bit at a time, continuously whisking to form an emulsion. Once all the olive oil is added, the mixture should have a texture similar to mayonnaise. Then, whisk in the remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

If the sauce seems too thick, it may be thinned out with a little water to aid in drizzling it on the crabs.

Note: Instead of whisking by hand, this can be made in a blender for great results!

To make the soft shell crabs, sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper. Then, coat them in the flour, dip them in the egg and finish by coating them with the panko breadcrumbs. Repeat with the second crab.

In a large saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the crabs and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned and crispy. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes.

To serve, place a bed of watercress on each plate and top with one of the crabs. Drizzle with the spicy aioli. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

soft shell crabs from Fish King

organic eggs, watercress, and organic panko breadcrumbs from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Green Day - American Idiot

I just saw the BEST Green Day concert last night! It was the last date on their North American tour and the Forum was completely sold out. They played for no less than 3 hours, complete with a final acoustic set for the third encore by Billie Joe. While I love many of their albums, their epic opus, American Idiot, remains my favorite, and last night the songs held up. Highlights included Holiday, American Idiot and Jesus of Suburbia.

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