Sea Legs

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

For the dipping sauces: 

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons red curry paste

Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus the juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian chile sauce)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Sweet chili sauce, for serving

For the crab fries:

Vegetable oil, for frying

6 medium soft shell crabs, cleaned

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

Kosher salt

1 cup cold seltzer

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Make the dipping sauces: Whisk the mayonnaise, curry paste, lime zest and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice in a small bowl until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Combine the remaining lime juice with the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, Sriracha and 1 tablespoon cold water in a separate small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the cilantro, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Prepare the crab fries: Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the crabs into quarters with kitchen shears; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Whisk the cake flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; add the seltzer and scallions and whisk just enough to make a lumpy batter.
  4. Working in batches, dip the crab pieces in the batter, then carefully add them to the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. (Use a mesh screen if you have one; the crabs may splatter.) Remove the crab fries with a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to the wire rack; season with salt. Let the oil return to 360 degrees F between batches. Serve the crab fries with the sweet chili sauce, curry mayonnaise and cilantro-lime sauce.
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