Soft-Shell Crab Poor-Boy

, French
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Ask your fishmonger to clean the crabs for you, because though the process is a quick and easy one, it’s not for the squeamish. There’s not much cooking here. Sometimes crabs spatter, so it’s best to fry them in oil that’s not smoking hot.

Ingredients

  • 1

    12- to 16-inch-long loaf supermarket French- or Italian-style bread, or 2 smaller loaves

  • 1

    egg

  • 1

    cup milk

  • ½

    cup cornmeal

  • ½

    cup flour

  • ½

    teaspoon cayenne, or more

  • Salt

  • Neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed, as needed

  • 2

    large soft-shell crabs, cleaned

  • For garnish: mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, hot sauce or lemon.

    Preparation

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Split bread in half and remove some of the soft white crumb with your fingers. Toast bread lightly in oven, about 10 to 15 minutes.
    2. Beat egg and milk together in a bowl; combine the cornmeal, flour, cayenne and a large pinch of salt on a plate. Put about 1/4-inch of oil in a deep skillet broad enough to accommodate crabs, and turn heat to medium. When oil is hot — a pinch of flour will sizzle — dip crabs in milk-egg mixture, then dredge in the cornmeal-flour mixture. Put in skillet; adjust heat so crabs bubble gently but not furiously in oil.
    3. When bottom is nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes, turn crabs and brown other side; crabs will be quite firm when done.
    4. Serve on toasted bread, garnished as you like.
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