Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs with Bangalore-Style Dipping Sauce


The lime juice, cilantro, chiles, and soy sauce in the dipping sauce add bright, bold flavors to these soft-shell crabs.

Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs with Bangalore-Style Dipping Sauce
Photo: © Stephanie Meyer
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
4 servings

Soft-shell crabs are in season from late April through September, depending on conditions. They are crabs that have just molted and shed their hard outer shell. While all crabs go through this process, only blue crabs are available as soft-shells in the U.S. Be sure to ask your fishmonger to dress the crabs for you, and cook them the day you purchase and clean them. They are most often pan-fried or deep-fried, but some chefs like them grilled.

Andrew Zimmern shared this recipe, recounting how it came to be: "Several years ago, I worked for a soft-shell crab company out of Maryland and spent four years studying, eating, and cooking the shellfish. I traveled the world testing recipes and visiting soft-crab fisheries and I came to consider myself something of an expert. One year, at the Boston Seafood Show, the owner of the company introduced me to a gentleman who owned the largest crab processing facility in India. He loved my recipes, which I was serving at the booth, but he told me the next day he would make me a sauce for fried crab that would knock my socks off. He did, and I have been making that sauce ever since. Check out this recipe and you will be sold."

The bright, spicy, herbal dipping sauce complements the fried crabs, and also works nicely with fried shrimp.


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons beef stock or low-sodium broth

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

  • 2 to 3 serrano chiles, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise

  • 2 large egg whites

  • 8 jumbo soft-shell crabs, cleaned and patted dry

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Whisk soy sauce and beef stock in a bowl with lime juice, sugar, and water. Add shallot, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir in cilantro and chiles.

  2. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Add crabs and turn to coat. In another bowl, whisk flour with cornstarch, white pepper, salt, and cayenne.

  3. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan to 375°F. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Dredge 2 or 3 crabs at a time in flour mixture and add them to the hot oil. Fry crabs over high heat, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer crabs to rack. Serve crabs on a platter with dipping sauce.

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