I was at my favorite fish monger, Crosby’s Crabs, and found that they had some soft shell crabs and with one cool advantage: they clean them. That task is one of my least favorite things to do, so bravo. My wife and I were meeting my brother and his wife down in Hilton Head, and he said he hadn’t had soft shell crabs for years , so I told him I would bring some down. (They are out of season down there.) Now, I had this version years ago at an Asian fusion place in Florida, so I did my best to recreate it as I remembered it. It has a crispy beer batter crust and a rockin’ sauce that combines salty, sweet, and vinegar. I hope you like it.
4 soft shell crabs, cleaned (fresh are better than frozen – just saying, but get what you can)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
16 ounces lager beer
1/2 cup sweet Thai chili paste (duck sauce if you don’t like spicy food)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
Mix flour, rice flour, corn starch, baking powder, cayenne, and the Old Bay seasoning in a plastic container.
Dredge crabs in flour mixture and set aside.
Add beer to remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
Heat oil to 350 in a cast iron pan or wok.
Dip crabs in beer batter and carefully place in oil.
Cook for 4 minutes on each side.
Mix sweet chili sauce, soy, and vinegar.
Serve cooked crabs with sweet Chile sauce and green onions.