Soft-Shell Crabs With Tomato Compote

Total Time:
1 hr 15 min
15 min
1 hr

4 servings

  • For the Compote:
  • 3 pounds medium tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and/or cilantro
  • For the Crabs:
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups polenta
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 large fresh soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Prepare the compote: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Core the tomatoes and halve crosswise, then squeeze out the seeds. Put the tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Roast until shriveled, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly, then slip off the skins. Cut into chunks.

  • Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and grind with a spice grinder or chop with a knife. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic and ginger in the skillet over medium heat and cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ground coriander and cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Prepare the crabs: Heat 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Put the polenta in a baking dish; add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Put the milk in a bowl. Dip the crabs in the milk and shake off the excess, then dredge in the polenta and shake off the excess.

  • Working in batches, fry the crabs, upside-down first, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towellined plate. Wipe out the skillet and add fresh oil between batches.

  • Reheat the compote and stir in the herbs. Serve the crabs with the compote and lime wedges.

  • Photograpg by Con Poulos

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