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Fried Softshell Crab

Fried Softshell Crab

1 large cast iron pot, filled with oil but only halfway
Softshell crabs, cleaned, but not dried
1 package dry tempura batter
1 package Panko bread crumbs
Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning or other Cajun-style seasoning
Lemon wedges for garnish

Heat the oil to 340 degrees, and make sure it maintains that temperature by using a cooking thermometer. In a large bowl, season the dry tempura batter liberally with the seasoning (you can add a little black pepper if you like, cayenne if you want to make it really spicy) and toss the crabs until they are well coated. Set the crabs aside until the moisture has soaked through (10 minutes), otherwise the bread crumbs will not adhere to them. If you are in a hurry, spritz the crabs with water until they are gummy. Put the bread crumbs in a brown paper sack and drop the crabs in one at a time, give them a good shake to cover, and repeat until all the crabs are well coated.

It is most important not to overcrowd the pot when cooking. If you do, the temperature will plummet and the crabs will be greasy. Cook a few at a time for 3 minutes, turning halfway through. If you overcook them, even by only a minute or so, they will be tough. Remove, drain and serve immediately with a slice of lemon.

Here’s a very quick and good sauce for any fried seafood: Put one cup of good quality mayo in a food processor, add the juice of one lemon and a small handful of cilantro. Blend until smooth. A little fresh ground white pepper tops it off.

This recipe was contributed by Julian Brunt, who writes a food column for the Biloxi, Mississippi, Sun Herald.

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