Tempura-Fried Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches with Tartar Sauce Slaw and Crispy Old Bay Chips

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 15 min (includes refrigeration time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches
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Tartar Sauce Slaw:

1/2 cup finely diced cornichons

1/2 cup mayonnaise 

2 tablespoons capers, drained 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

Pinch sugar 

Juice of 1/2 lemon 

1/4 Spanish onion, grated 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 small head white cabbage, shredded 

Old Bay Potato Chips:

1 bag potato chips, such as Lay's or Kettle

1 tablespoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay 

Soft-Shell Crabs:

Canola oil, for deep-frying

3 cups rice flour 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Few dashes hot sauce, optional 

4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned


4 soft potato buns

2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced 


Special equipment:
a deep-frying thermometer
  1. For the tartar sauce slaw: Whisk together the cornichons, mayonnaise, capers, mustard, sugar, lemon juice, onion and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. For the Old Bay potato chips: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the potato chips in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake, just to warm, 2 minutes. Put the Old Bay in a small mesh strainer and tap evenly over the chips; toss the chips lightly.
  3. For the soft-shell crabs: Set a rack in a baking sheet. Heat 3 to 4 inches of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it registers 375 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer. Whisk together 2 cups of the rice flour and 2 cups water until smooth, then season with salt and pepper and some hot sauce if using.
  4. Put the remaining 1 cup rice flour in a shallow dish and season with some salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crabs with salt and pepper.
  5. Dredge 2 crabs in flour and tap off the excess. Dip in the tempura batter, letting any excess run off. Fry until golden brown, crispy and just cooked through, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain on the rack. Repeat with the remaining 2 crabs.
  6. For the sandwiches: Put some of the slaw on the bottom of each bun and top with a fried crab. Add a bit more slaw and a tomato slice and top with chips. Close sandwiches with the tops of the buns and serve immediately.
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