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Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs with Lemon Mayonnaise and Apple-Fennel Salad


Cooking soft-shell crabs on the grill gives them a smoky flavor and an appealingly chewy texture. The accompanying salad is Mario Batali's Italian riff on coleslaw—it's made with apples and fennel, which adds a tasty licorice bite.

  1. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  3. 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns, coarsely chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  5. 4 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and very thinly sliced, preferably on a mandoline
  6. 2 fennel bulbs—trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced, preferably on a mandoline
  7. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  9. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  10. Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  11. 16 soft shell crabs, cleaned
  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, stir the vinegar with the 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the pink peppercorns and the celery seeds. Add the apples and fennel and toss well; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.
  2. In a small bowl, blend the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, lemon zest and the remaining 1 tablespoon of pink peppercorns; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Season the crabs with salt and pepper and brush with oil. Grill over a hot fire, top shell down, until lightly charred and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until just cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Spoon the apple-fennel salad onto plates and top each serving with 2 grilled crabs. Serve the lemon mayonnaise on the side.
Make Ahead The salad and lemon mayonnaise can be refrigerated, separately, overnight.
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