Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs with Hazelnuts Patrick O'Connell, Inn at Little Washington Washington VA Appetizer, Great Chefs of the East #4
Sauteed soft shell crabs are served with tarragon-dressed green beans and a mixture of tomato, hazelnuts, coriander, and lime. Chive stems and blossoms provide a pretty garnish.
Mustard Sauce 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade Juice of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Crabs 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned and dressed Seasoned flour for dredging 1/2 cup clarified butter 2 tablespoons brown butter (beurre noisette) 1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced 1/3 cup toasted hazelnut slivers 1 tablespoon chopped coriander Juice of 1 lime
Garnish 8 ounces haricots verts or Blue Lake green beans, blanched 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing 1 tarragon leaf, minced 8 lime segments 2 coriander leaves, cut into narrow strips 1 tablespoon snipped chives 8 to 12 chive blossoms
To prepare the sauce: Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and mustards into a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
To prepare the crabs: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Heat the butter in an ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add the crabs, top-side down. The butter should be hot enough to blister the crabs. Saute until golden brown, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, then turn and saute on the other side until browned, another 1-1/2 minutes. Turn the crabs back over, drain the liquid, and add the brown butter, tomato, hazelnuts, and coriander. Place in the oven and cook 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with lime juice.
To serve: Dress the beans with vinaigrette and tarragon and arrange them in a radial design on the plates, Place a crab on the green beans on each plate. Garnish the plates with the tomato, hazelnuts, lime, and coriander. Drizzle with mustard sauce and sprinkle with snipped chives and chive blossoms.