Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with a Shellfish Ragu

Total Time:
55 min
35 min
20 min

4 servings

  • 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.

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