Soft-shell crabs are like the potato chips of the seafood world; they’re crunchy and addictive, and I eagerly await their season every year. I’m a little disturbed by the fact that they seem to be arriving earlier and earlier and what that means ecologically, but I don’t want to go on a rant here. I ate the little buggers, after all, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. This meal was so ridiculously fast and easy I almost feel like it’s cheating to post about it, but if you have access to a grill, I’m going to insist you try this.
Take your soft-shell crabs and clean them if they aren’t already (Cook’s Illustrated has a good how-to here). Season both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and drizzle with good olive oil. Place them into a grill basket with the bellies facing up. Place the grill basket onto a hot grill (hardwood charcoal is preferable – I don’t like lighter fluid and neither does my food). Cook them on the first side for 5 minutes, flip them so they are belly side down, and cook them for just another minute or two.
Remove those crispy little critters from the grill basket and serve; you could accompany them with your favorite dipping sauce (I did a tamari/lemon/wasabi mixture with some slivered almonds tossed in), but you probably won’t need it. The crabs will have a wonderful sweet and smoky flavor that really doesn’t need further embellishment.
I tossed a mixture of wild baby arugula and arugula blossoms with lemon vinaigrette, opened a bottle of Lieb Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, and we sat down to a light and elegant meal that was literally ready in minutes.