Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why I Love the Month of May

I woke up this morning with a single thought in my head: It's time to make soft shell crabs.

May, after all, is their time to shine. And they're one of my very favorite things to eat. So I drove a bit out of my way to a good fish market, confident they'd have crabs. I circled around a few times, as there was high drama going on in the late innings of the Yankees-Mets game, and when I got inside I found a fresh crate of beautiful live crabs -- and at only $3.50 each. I resisted the urge for an extra and went home with four for Margy and me.

I did the flour-egg-panko thing to fry the soft shells up crisp. And I opened my first-ever can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (a gift from my sis) to make a spicy accompaniment. I wanted a sauce, but I wasn't exactly sure how to proceed. I ground up a chipotle in the blender and added some shrimp stock and a splash of wine. Good so far. Then I sprinkled a bit of sugar over the sauce and added a teaspoon of chickpea flour as a thickener. Oops. Bad idea(s).

The sugar and the chickpea flour were mistakes -- both tasted terrible with the other ingredients -- and down the drain went my efforts. But I regrouped and simplified. Chipotle, stock, and wine were all I needed for the base of the sauce, and while the crabs were cooking I thickened the sauce with a quick roux. The spice of the chipotle worked great against the nuttiness of the crabs. And that crunch! Margy and I were in soft-shell heaven.

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