With my ITP thesis ready to go, I finally got a chance to do some creative cooking again. Tonight I made a fried soft shell crab salad with a curry aïoli dressing. I improvised through this one (like most things I cook), so no exact measurements. I got the soft shell crabs (which are currently in season) from FreshDirect, and they were already cleaned, which saved me the scary task of cutting off the eyes of live crabs as demonstrated here by Mark Bittman of the NY Times.
Start with the aïoli dressing. Put in a blender:
1 raw egg (without the shell, silly!)
1 clove of garlic
2 chopped up cornichons
1 generous spoonful of Dijon mustard
1 shake of curry powder
1 dash of soy sauce
1 dash of Tabasco
1 heaping teaspoon of apricot jam (the sweetness offsets the intensity of the other flavors)
2-3 teaspoons of vinegar (I used a combo apple cider and rice wine vinegar that has been infused with jalapeños. I like to live a little on the wild side, so I chucked in a couple slices of the pickled jalapeños too
2-3 generous glugs (I know, this is hardly scientific) of grapeseed or other neutral oil
Blend everything together and season to taste. It should come out more like a thick salad dressing and less like a mayonnaise. If it’s too thick, add some water or more vinegar to taste. This makes a lot of dressing, so these measurements would be enough for 4-6 servings.
Now for the crab. Clean the crab if it didn’t come cleaned already. Rinse in some cold water and pat dry with some paper towels. Make a tempura-style batter by mixing flour, ice cold water, freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco, and fish sauce (plain old salt would work here too). The batter should be really cold and rather thin. Don’t over mix. Dip the crab in the batter and deep fry. It takes 2-3 minutes per side. When done, drain on some paper towels.
Tonight I served the crab on some heirloom tomatoes and Boston lettuce with the dressing drizzled on top. I had a glass of vinho verde to go with my delicious dinner, but an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer would also probably work well with the curry flavor.