Recipe: Jumbo Soft-Shell Crabs

Dan Dunsky’s Auburn Hills restaurant, O’Brien’s Crabhouse, offers fish and seafood dishes that reflect the changing seasons. Soft-shell crab is especially good during the month of May, with a season lasting, as Dunsky puts it, from about Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. Sambal oelek, a condiment made with chilies, brown sugar, and salt, which is popular in Indonesia and other countries in that region, adds a little kick.
Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Jumbo Soft-Shell Crabs with Sambal-Citrus Vinaigrette Drizzle

(Serves 2)

6 ounces olive oil
1 ounce dark sesame oil
4 ounces honey
4 ounces freshly squeezed lime
juice, with pulp
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 ounce fresh ginger, chopped
2 ounces red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro,
chopped and tightly packed
1 tablespoon whole-grain
Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
sambal oelek (add more if more
heat is desired)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. (There will be extra vinaigrette, which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and used on salad.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 egg
8 ounces milk
4 ounces olive oil
4 fresh jumbo soft-shell crabs

In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, and black pepper. Mix egg and milk in another bowl. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Dredge soft-shell crabs in egg wash and then seasoned flour. Sauté in hot oil until done, about 4 minutes.
Place two crabs on each dinner plate and drizzle with vinaigrette (about 2 ounces for each crab). Jasmine rice and grilled asparagus are good accompaniments.
*Sambal oelek is found in the Asian section of markets.

> NOTE: Dunsky says readers should remember to ask their “fishmonger” or fish-counter person to clean the crabs for them.

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