I spotted some soft-shell crabs at Santa Monica Seafood last weekend. I’ve never cooked them before so I got really excited except the fish guy said it would be gone by next week. Oh no! So I headed over to the shop during the week and picked up a few to try out. First try was a soft-shell crab tempura which didn’t turn out so well in terms of texture. But the crab was so delicious Boy and I were able to overlook the not so crispy batter.
However day two yielded much more successful results. In fact, the results were smashing. I marinated the soft-shell crabs overnight in chermoula, which is a North African fish marinade made with spices, lemon, chile and olive oil. I used the Maloufs’ recipe from their Artichokes to Za’atar: Modern Middle Eastern Food which calls for cumin, coriander, ground ginger, green chile, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. The next day I seasoned the crab with salt, dredged it in flour and fried it in canola oil.
The salad part of the dish was made with cucumber, yogurt, mint, cilantro, lemon juice and olive oil. I used a vegetable peeler to shave the cucumber into ribbons and tossed it in the dressing. I plated the shaved cucumber salad first, topped by onion sprouts, the crispy spiced soft-shell crab, then chopped toasted pistachios and cilantro. Boy and I were all over this dish. The chermoula and yogurt were a perfect combination of spicy and mild tanginess and the crab had a thin crispy crust while juicy and tender inside. Boy ate his crab without the cucumbers in yogurt (he’s not a fan of cucumbers) and he still loved it.