Bacon becomes a crunchy crust surrounding each crab, and peppery arugula with mustard vinaigrette is the perfect counterpoint. Mark this recipe to use in the spring when both soft-shells and the first tender arugula are in season.
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2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons grainy or Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
8 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
16 slices bacon (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 quarts arugula leaves (from about two 1/4-pound bunches)
How to Make It
In a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking.
Wrap the body of each crab with two slices of bacon without overlapping, leaving the legs exposed. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
In each of two large frying pans, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cooking oil over moderately high heat. Dust the crabs and bacon with the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Put the crabs in the pans, upside down. Cook until the bacon is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until the bacon on the other side is browned and crisp and the crabs are just done, about 3 minutes longer.
To serve, toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and mound on four plates. Top the salad with the crabs.
The richness of the bacon will pair nicely with a full-flavored wine, but there should be some acidity to stand up to the spicy arugula and vinaigrette. The solution? A Pinot Blanc from Alsace, which nicely combines both of these qualities.
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