Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grilled soft shell crab ソフトシェルクラブの炭焼き

One nice sunny weekend, we stumbled onto a new farmer's market set up in the parking lot of a near-by strip mall. We bought some herbs to plant in our herb garden, nicely sweet and ripe strawberries, hot-house tomatoes (not as good as true summer tomatoes) and a few more items. One of the vendors was a fish monger selling fish from a refrigerated truck. Since they had soft-shell crabs, we could not resist and bought two.

Since it was such a nice sunny day, not too cold not too hot and no overt signs of mosquitos, we really wanted to stay outside. So, we decided to grill the soft-shell crabs instead of cooking them in our usual tempura method.

I somehow forgot to put my camera on "macro" mode and all the pictures I took except for the one (above) were out of focus and I cannot show you what the final servings looked like.

As usual, I started lump charcoal in a chimney starter and use our "Yakitori" grill for this. For basting, I made a mixture of melted butter (non-salted) and olive oil (about 1:1). I heated up the butter and olive oil for a few minutes and added finely chopped shallot. I then seasoned it with black pepper, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and let it cool down to room temperature.

I brushed the butter mixture on the top side of the crabs and started grilling with the top side down (left in the above picture). After 4-5 minutes when the skin of the crabs turned red and blackend in spots, I basted the underside with the butter mixture and turned it over and cooked another 4-5 minutes (right in the above picture).

Although my picture did not turn out and I cannot show what the final servings looked like, I precut the cooked crabs and served it with grilled asparagus (using the same basting mixture) and grilled tomato halves (skinned, salted and coated with the same butter mixture) and a wedge of lemon. As usual, I also made grilled rice balls as an ending dish with cucumber slices in vinegar dressing with "jako" 胡瓜と雑魚の酢の物.

Although grilled soft-shell crabs are not bad, the skin does not get as crispy as in tempura and we both agreed tempura is the best way to enjoy soft-shell crabs. While edible, the crabs did not entirely meet my wife's standard of freshness, so we will probably not be buying anything else from that vendor. But, at least, we were outside cooking and enjoying the food and wine al fresco.

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