These crispy, crunchy risotto balls are filled with crab, corn and creamy ricotta. Paired with a slightly smoky creamy dipping sauce they are the perfect start to an Italian feast.
Simply adding crab to a classic recipe is an easy way to create a new signature dish.
Crab cakes are the most popular application for our crab meat. That being said, almost everyone who makes a crab cake does it a little different and almost all swear theirs is the best. To me a good crab cake should be about the crab, all of the other ingredients are just there as a supporting cast and need to be in balance and let the crab shine through. A little bit of wet ingredients to coat the crab, this can be egg, mayonnaise, melted butter, some seasonings, like mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice or the almost standard Old Bay seasoning and some kind of breading to hold it all together, like breadcrumbs or ground crackers. Crab cakes are an easy way to work with new ingredients or flavor profiles as the mild, sweet flavor of our crab provides a great palate for building flavors. This is a classic cake recipe and is very easy to work with and adjust to suit your taste. If you don’t like Dijon mustard for example, use yellow mustard, or none at all. If you don’t have Ritz crackers, use Panko breadcrumbs or crushed saltines. If you like a drier cake, cut back the mayonnaise, etc. Add as much breadcrumbs as you like, the key is to have a cake that can be formed and will hold together enough to be able to cook and put on your guests plates. I have also included a classic Creole Remoulade sauce recipe, as I love a great sauce with my cakes, and this is one of my favorites (it is also fantastic for a crab cocktail with our Jumbo Lump or Colossal crabmeat!).
How do you update a classic Southern style cornmeal crust on a soft shell crab? I made a tempura batter adding buttermilk and fine ground yellow cornmeal. It is light, crispy and the sweetness of the cornmeal work perfectly with the natural sweetness of the crab. A seasonal vegetable succotash featuring edamame in place of the traditional lima beans creates a light, fresh and colorful backdrop for the crunchy crabs.
Over the years in the restaurant business I learned that the words “crispy” or “crunchy” before a menu item leads to sales. The classic Buffalo chicken wing paired with a creamy blue cheese or ranch dipping sauce was the inspiration for this dish. One of the unique selling points is that it is a gluten free item, using a rice flour tempura batter to create a super crispy crust. A creamy yet spicy Buffalo Ranch dipping sauce makes it familiar yet exciting. I also must say the presentation of the halved crabs standing up on the plate is quite dramatic!
How do you make a bowl of soup as exciting to look at as it is delicious to eat? You add an incredible garnish! I took a classic Maryland crab soup, loaded with fresh crab meat, vegetables and Old Bay seasoning and topped it with a crispy soft shell crab. The crunchy crab with the slightly spicy tomato broth is a perfect combination.
Sandwiches are one of the most popular applications for crispy fried soft shell crabs. Having gone to college in New Orleans, my favorite is a classic Soft Shell Po’ Boy. A buttermilk batter provides a great texture and the cornmeal with Creole seasoning gives a true Southern flavor. I like mine “fully dressed” and with a heavy dose of Creole Remoulade sauce to add a creamy, slightly spicy, component to the dish.
With Korean fried chicken being one of the top trend items, I thought it would be great to combine those flavors and textures with our small soft shell crabs (mediums) to create a “wow factor” shareable appetizer. A crispy tempura batter made spicy an deep with flavor from fermented Korean chili paste, Gojuchang, and extra crispy with the help of Soju, a Korean liquor. The crabs are served with a quick pickled slaw with the flavors of classic kimchi. You can also serve a dipping sauce along side the crabs, such as Mae Ploy, Thai sweet chili sauce.