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Beer-battered Softshell Crab Sandwiches
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.
8 oz dark beer, preferably Corsendank
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.
©2011 Darrin DuFord