Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich Bliss

The fish section was the first thing I saw when entering the Great Wall Supermarket in Flushing. A smiling man stood in front of a wall of tanks filled with gigantic crabs, trout and other edible aquatic creatures. In front of the smiling man were more boxes of gorgeous crustaceans. These were immediately ignored once I saw the box filled with plump, live soft-shell crabs. A sign read, "Special $30/dozen, $16/6." I looked at Steve, then back at the gorgeous crabs sitting in the box.

"Are you serious?" I pointed at six of the best looking crabs and the smiling man gently placed them in a paper bag. Visions of soft shell crabs swimming in lemon juice and butter flooded my imagination, but the craving for a soft-shell crab sandwich floated to the top.

 I can't bury the lead, so here's the finished product.

We rode back into Manhattan on the 7 into Grand Central. Before returning home, I swung through Grand Central Market and picked up some excellent bacon from Murray's, Boston lettuce, and a Pullman loaf from Corrado Bread. Total cost of all the ingredients: slightly over $20. As I usually do when I find a nice piece of fish in Chinatown, I also check the price at Wild Edibles in Grand Central. The result: $8.99 per soft-shell crab. You can also order two for $30 dollars at Grand Central Oyster Bar if you're interested...

Although I could have eaten all six crabs, it was only 4 o'clock. My college roommate had invited me to a happy hour down the street, and while I met him at the bar, all I could think of were the soft-shell crabs waiting for me in an ice-filled bowl in my fridge. My leg bounced up and down nervously as I tried to finish my beer and think non-soft shell crab thoughts.

As soon as I returned to my apartment, I prepped two of the soft-shell crabs in the traditional, humane method of cutting their faces off with scissors and pulling out their lungs. I dredged them in flour with salt, pepper and red chile powder, before shallow frying them in peanut oil for 3-4 minutes per side. As soon as they were finished, I covered the crabs in fresh lemon juice. For the first sandwich, I only added one of the crabs along with the bacon and lettuce (I ate the second one in about two bites). I would have made mayo, but I had already waited long enough, so I just made a quick remoulade. Like the solo crab, I think I ate the sandwich in under four bites.

I love the part that tastes like crabby egg whites. 
Once The Quaker came home (mensch that I am), I offered him two of the remaining crabs. We made a second pair of sandwiches, this time shoving two crabs into each. As a side, I fried some peanuts in the leftover bacon fat and seasoned them with Sichuan pepper, salt, red chile powder and sugar.


I can assure you I tasted the sandwich this time. We added capers to the remoulade, which provided a nice salty kick once spread on the lightly toasted Pullman bread. The crabs, filled with plump, juicy meat, tasted perfectly fresh with a lemony bite. The Murray's bacon is always incredible, and added a great smoky depth to the sandwich.

I finished my sandwich and lay back on the couch, slipping into a food coma, and feeling a rush of euphoria from the great deal I had found and the mind-blowingly good sandwich I had just eaten. Very few things can accurately describe the pleasure of having four meaty soft-shell crabs sitting in my belly. Regardless, the fried soft-shell crab and bacon sandwich will surely go down in the annals of the greatest treif sandwiches I've ever made. 

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