Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with a Shellfish Ragu
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- 8 soft-shell crabs, cleaned and rinsed gently under cold running water
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup minced shallots
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3/4 cup shrimp or seafood stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 pound cooked crawfish tails, peeled and seasoned with Essence
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Snipped chives
- Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Preheat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer to 360 degrees F.
Rinse crabs in water, then pat dry with paper towel. Season each crab with 1 teaspoon of the Essence and set aside.
Combine flour with 4 teaspoons of the remaining Essence, salt and ground black pepper and stir to combine well. Beat the egg with a splash of water in a shallow dish. Lay out the breadcrumbs in a separate shallow dish.
Lightly dredge each crab in the seasoned flour, making sure that the crabs are completely coated.
Dip each crab in eggwash to cover, then coat in bread crumbs.
Holding the crabs by long tongs or balanced on a small skimmer, hold them so that the legs dangle down into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute, or until the legs are stiff. Lower the crab completely into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn crab over and allow to fry an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy all over. Carefully transfer crabs to paper-lined plates to drain briefly before serving. Sprinkle with Essence when still hot.
In a large skillet over medium high heat melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and saute the shallots until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and the remaining teaspoon of Essence and saute for 1 minute, or until the shrimp turn pink around the edges. Add the shrimp stock, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the stock is reduced by half. Add the heavy cream and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Add the crawfish tails, fresh thyme and snipped chives and cook until heated through. Whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and remove sauce from the heat. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve the ragu ladled over the fried softshell crabs.Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.