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Beer-battered Softshell Crab Sandwiches

With a softshell crab, nothing goes to waste (except its tail and its gills). If you're squeamish on how the critter looks, then try this recipe, because he will be hidden between halves of a roll.

When buying the crabs, make sure they're alive and lively. Most fishmongers will keep them in the fridge, so they might need a minute to snap out of the cold. If they still don't start moving around after being put in a warmer place and prodded, then don't buy them. Dead, uncooked crabs are dilligent bacteria factories. If a crab dies in your custody, either cook him up within a couple hours or throw him out.

Try to find crabs that still have both front claws.


battered crabs:
8 oz dark beer, preferably Corsendank
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
2 small- to medium-sized softshell crabs
salt & pepper to taste

4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (save the rest of the lemon)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small sweet dill pickle, diced finely

2 rolls, slightly toasted
2 leaves romaine lettuce
a few slices of ripe tomato

Crack two eggs in a bowl. Pour in beer and mix. Don't let the froth freak you out. In a separate bowl, mix flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper.

Boil crabs for a minute to kill them. After they cool slightly, twist off their tails. Reach under each side of the shell and yank out the gills. Dunk de-tailed and de-gilled crabs in egg-beer mixture. Make sure all the legs are covered. Dredge in flour mixture, making sure that entire crab is covered with flour mixture.

Heat a saute pan on medium-high heat. Pour in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/8". Fry the crabs until completely brown on both sides. Here's when we see the benefit of smaller crabs: fat crabs might require deeper oil. Unless you really want to deep fry 'em, that is.

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Place sauce, lettuce, tomato and crab on each roll. Serve with the rest of the bottle of beer, and garnish with squeezes from the rest of the lemon.

Serves 2.

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©2011 Darrin DuFord