The City Magazine Since 1975

Cornmeal-Sautéed Soft-Shell Crab BLT with Arugula & Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

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For the clabber:
(Yields 1 cup)
2 Tbs. buttermilk
1 cup whole milk

For the tomato vinaigrette:
(Yields 2 cups)
1 large tomato, quartered
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and white pepper
1 cup chopped shallot
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup homemade or low-sodium
    chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. champagne vinegar
1 cup canola oil

For the crabs:
4 cups cornmeal
4 cups corn flour or finely ground corn meal
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cleaned soft-shell crabs
4 Tbs. canola oil
2 tsp. unsalted butter


For the clabber:
Combine the buttermilk and milk in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until the mixture thickens to the consistency of sour cream, about one hour.

For the tomato vinaigrette:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the tomato on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Put in the oven and roast until charred, 20 to 25 minutes.
Combine the shallot, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, and wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar and canola oil. Pour into a blender and puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Extra vinaigrette can be refrigerated in a tightly covered container for up to two weeks.

For the crabs:
Combine the cornmeal, corn flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the crabs in this breading mixture and shake off any excess.
Heat the canola oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the crabs in two batches if necessary, as there should be an inch between them in the skillet.
When the oil is hot enough that it sizzles when you drop a pinch of flour in it, place the crabs in the skillet top-side down. Cook them, turning once, for four minutes on each side, until golden brown. (Caution: the crabs may pop in the hot oil.) Remove and drain on paper towels.

To assemble:
2 cups arugula, stems removed
2 Tbs. tomato vinaigrette, plus more for
    garnishing (recipe above)
1 Tbs. chopped basil
1 cup clabber (recipe above)
4 slices white bread, cut in half and toasted
4 slices cooked bacon, each cut into
        three sections
4 cornmeal-sautéed soft-shell crabs (recipe above)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toss the arugula with two tablespoons of vinaigrette. Fold the chopped basil into the clabber and place some on each of the four plates. Top with a slice of toast. Place three sections of bacon across each piece of toast. Top with some dressed arugula, then a crab. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remaining slices of toast.
To garnish, dot a circle of roasted tomato vinaigrette on each plate.