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Chesapeake Bay Soft-shell Crab "Sandwich"

Source: The French Laundry Cookbook
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Active Time:  40 Minutes
Total Time:  40 Minutes
  Makes 6 servings
This is not really a sandwich, of course, but the dish was inspired by my love of traditional soft-shell crab sandwiches heaped with tomatoes and tartar sauce. I've refashioned the ingredients of a classic tartar sauce--egg yolks, dill pickles, capers--as hard-boiled yolks, Dijon mustard, and cornichons. On top of the sauce, I put a crouton, then the crab, trimmed down to just its body and claws, then tomato confit, arugula, and fried capers.
For Sauce:
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 tablespoons hot chicken stock, or hot water
3 tablespoons cornichon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons minced cornichons
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed carrot, turnip, and leek
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For Capers:
canola oil for deep-frying
1 tablespoon capers, drained
For Crab:
6 live soft-shell crabs
clarified butter, for panfrying
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting
6 brioche Croutons (see recipe)
6 pieces Tomato Confit, at room temperature (see recipe)
1/4 cup baby arugula (or regular arugula cut into chiffonade--long narrow strips)
Other necessary recipes:
Tomato Confit Croutons
Chesapeake Bay Soft-shell Crab "Sandwich" Recipe at
FOR SAUCE: Blend the egg yolks, chicken stock, cornichon juice, and mustard in a blender. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil so the mixture emulsifies. Remove the sauce to a small bowl and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days: bring to room temperature before serving.

FOR CAPERS: In a very small pot, heat about 2 inches of canola oil to 250 F. Add the drained capers and fry slowly for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbles have stopped forming around the capers and they are dry and crunchy. Drain them on paper towels.

TO CLEAN CRABS: Using a pair of scissors, cut off the crabs' faces and discard. Cut off the two large claws where they meet the body and reserve. Cut off and discard the smaller legs and trim the sides of the body for a smooth edge. Lift off the apron, the pointed piece on the underside of each crab. Remove the lungs and any other matter beneath the apron. Rinse the six bodies and twelve claws and pat dry with paper towels.

TO COOK CRABS: Heat 1/8 inch of clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the pieces of crab with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, patting off any excess. Add the crab bodies shell side down to the hot butter. The butter should be hot enough to sizzle when the crabs are added, but not so hot that it pops and spurts from the pan.

Sauté the crab bodies for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and crusty on the bottom. Turn the bodies, add the claws, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; turn the claws after about 1 minute. Remove the crab pieces and drain on paper towels.

TO COMPLETE: Place a spoonful of sauce in the center of each serving plate. Center a crouton on the sauce and top it with a crab body. Fold a piece of tomato confit in half and place it over the crab. Arrange 2 claws over each piece of tomato and finish with a stack of baby arugula. Sprinkle the plates with the fried capers. Serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Workman Publishing. All rights reserved.
Date Added: 01/01/2008
Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield:   Makes 6 servings
Calories: 284
Fat. Total: 23g
Protein: 16g
Carbohydrates, Total: 3g
Sodium: 326mg
% Cal. from Fat: 73%
Cholesterol: 123mg
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