Seasonal eating at its best

I am a firm believer in eating what is in season.  If you go back and read old cookbooks or food memoirs (Elizabeth David, James Beard, etc.) they talk about eating the food that was in season where they happened to be.  That was in the days before globalization when there were no raspberries in November, no oysters in August, no crabmeat in January, etc.  People used to eat local because they didn’t have a choice – now it’s become a hip thing to do.  It is also a better thing to do – the tomatoes you get in the summer have a different texture and a different flavor than the ones you get in the winter, the local strawberries that I have been buying taste so much better than the ones we get from California and so on.   The seasons are short so we should enjoy them.  That is my justification for having soft shell crabs again tonight.  They are so delicious and when I walk past the seafood counter, they speak to me.  They say “Buy me, cook me and serve me for dinner.”  Sorry crabs!  Tonight was the Thai version.

Thai curry soft crabs

  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass*, chopped
  • 3 – 4 Kaffir lime leaves*, inner vein removed and finely minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 – 2 TB chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)*
  • 1 tsp ground dried roasted Thai chili peppers*
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 bunch basil chopped
  • 2 – 3 soft shell crabs per person, cleaned
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/s tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with 1 TB water
  • vegetable or canola oil

Combine cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon stick in a dry pan and heat over medium heat, tossing about 3-4 minutes.  Flavors should combine and smell fantastic!  Cool and grind together with a mortar and pestle.

In a heavy pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute about 1 minute until just turning golden.  Add lemongrass, lime leaves, chili paste, turmeric and chili peppers.  Stir in ground spices.  Add coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce.  Stir and reduce heat while crabs cook.

Combine flour, salt, pepper and remaining cumin an a shallow plate or pan.  In another plate or pan, combine water and egg.  Dry soft shells and dip in egg, then flour mixture.  Heat 2 TB oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook crabs (top shell down first) until done – about 3 – 4 minutes a side.  (Cover pan with a lid, crabs will spatter!  I have a burn scar on my arm from spattering hot crab.)

Add cooked crabs to sauce mixture and toss so they are well coated with sauce.  Serve over rice.  Enjoy!

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About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

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