Preparing soft shell crabs a fun adventure

Special to Lowcountry LifeApril 18, 2012 

The Lowcountry affords much in the way of seafood, and there is so much to learn from the folks who were born and bred here.

I have never been crabbing, but I am told it is a wonderful experience and just as easy as one-two-three. All one needs is a chicken neck, a string and a pail or bucket to catch the bounty.

A day of crabbing is on my list of things to experience.

Although my former student Josephus Cohen tells me I pick crabs like a foreigner and that after being here for more than 50 years I should have the method down like a fine science, I do enjoy a crab fest. Whether in the company of friends in the backyard or over paper on my kitchen table, eating crabs is just fun.

This Saturday in Port Royal, everyone can experience soft shell crab season, which is short-lived. Ogden Lazenby will be at the Soft Shell Crab Festival preparing some crabs, and for those of you who just cannot envision eating a crab with shell and all, there will be crab cakes and other foods to enjoy.

The festival also will showcase different ways to prepare and serve crab meat.

To prepare a soft shell crab, wash it carefully, lift up the pointed flaps at either side of the back shell and remove the spongy substance under them. Remove the pointed piece, called the apron, at the lower part of shell and the spongy material under it. The crabs are then ready for cooking.

Fried Soft Shell Crabs

Prepare the crab as directed, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, dip in slightly beaten egg, roll in fine, dry breadcrumbs and fry at 360 degrees. The crabs will rise to the top and must be turned to brown on both sides. They will be ready in 4 to 6 minutes.

Crab and Mushroom Quiche

4 eggs, well beaten 2 cups half-and-half 1/3 cup minced onion 1 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 6-ounce package frozen crab meat, thawed 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1 unbaked 10-inch pastry shell Chopped parsley

Combine eggs, half-and-half, onion, salt and cayenne pepper; blend until smooth and set aside.

Drain crab meat on paper towels until it's very dry. Sprinkle crab meat, mushrooms and cheese over bottom of pastry shell; pour in egg mixture and top with chopped parsley.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake additional 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Crab Rolls with Lemon Aioli

1 1/4 cups aioli or mayonnaise 2 large celery ribs cut into 1/4-inch dice 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Cayenne pepper 1 1/4 pounds lump crabmeat, picked over and lightly broken up Salt 8 hot dog buns or 16 mini brioche rolls, split 8 Boston lettuce leaves, sliced

In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the celery and lemon juice; season with cayenne. Gently fold in the crab meat; season with salt. Fill the buns with the lettuce and the crab and serve.

Crab Meat Pudding

1 pound crabmeat 1 2-ounce can mushrooms, sliced 1 cup soft bread crumbs 1 package instant onion soup mix 1/2 cup raw carrots, grated 2 eggs, well beaten 1/2 cup milk 1/4 teaspoon thyme 1 tablespoon horseradish 2 tablespoons milk 8 tablespoon cottage cheese

Combine all ingredients except the last four. Spoon into buttered baking shells or small casserole. Bake in shells for 30 minutes or casserole for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Combine remaining ingredients; use for garnishing pudding.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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