Monday, 25 May 2009

Soft Shell Crabs

It was Dom's birthday Saturday and we had a barbecue and food thing round his house. I thought I would attempt to cook some soft shell crabs like the ones I had at Vietnamese restaurant Song Que recently.

I obtained the crabs from Longdan which is a Vietnamese owned oriental supermarket. There's one opened on Hackney Road near the Shoreditch end. I've been going there quite a lot recently to buy tofu and oriental vegetables as they are incredibly cheap compared to the same stuff in a normal shop.

When I've been in there buying that stuff I've been bothering the staff, asking about what soft shell crabs they sell. They only come frozen, for £34 you can get a giant box and for £7 you can get a box which is still very big. I went for the £7 box. They are in a solid block of Ice so if you do buy them they will take at least 12 hours out of the fridge to defrost.

I've done a bit of research as to what soft shell crabs are. They're crabs which have been killed just after they've molted their shells so the new shell they are growing is very thin and soft.

I decided to deep fry the crabs as they were when I had them in the restaurant. I dried out some cheap bread rolls and grated them to make bread crumbs. I added a decent amount of salt, pepper, paprika and chilli flakes to the bread crumbs.

I then dusted the crabs with flour, dipped them in a bowl of beaten egg and then coated them in the breadcrumbs.

The crabs were then fried two at a time in hot vegetable oil. I always test the heat of the oil by dropping a bit of the breadcrumb into it to make sure it's at frying temperature.

I fried them for about 2-5 minutes each. They give off a delicious smell when frying and the grey bluey bits go pink and red while cooking. Be careful as I've heard that they can pop and spatter although I didn't have any problems.

I wasn't successful at replicating the oriental style I was going for however the crabs had an English seaside feel to them like posh scampi. They were very good. I had them with some sweet chilli dipping sauce.

I remembered that when I had them before they were not served with the large claws as I discovered you cannot bite through these. The larger legs were also a bit difficult to eat whole and it was easier the suck out the meat. If I do them again I'll probably give them a trim of the hard bits.

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