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Super-seed Crusted Oven-Fried Soft-Shell Crab topped with Caviar on a bed of Spinach and Thinly Sliced Vegetables tossed in a Pickl-y Lemon Crème Fraîche Dressing
Two things: one, this is not fried; and two, this is not chicken! I thought I’d call it that because it mimics the crunchy satisfaction an ol’ bucket of fried chicken would give you but without the guilt! This recipe utilizes the uncommonly used soft shell crab which is encrusted in a heart healthy super-seed crust and baked in the oven instead of being dunked in a vat of oil. Caviar is added for a decadent salinity boost and a quick and easy bed of salad is the perfect accompaniment.
Soft shell crabs are regular blue crabs that have been harvested after they’ve molted their exoskeletons during the months of April to mid-September. Their macronutrients are composed of 91% protein and 9% fat with no carbs to spare which makes this a perfect meal for those who choose to eat on a keto or low-carb diet.
Fried Chicken of the Sea
Total: 20 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Allergens: eggs, sesame seeds, shellfish, tree nuts
- 4 pieces of soft-shelled crab, cleaned
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour OR cornstarch
- 2 egg whites, beaten
- 1 tablespoon each of almond flour, coconut flour, ground flax seeds, hemp hearts and sesame seeds
- ¼ cup of olive oil, for frying
- 4 teaspoons of crème fraîche dressing (see below)
- 4 teaspoons of caviar
- ½ cup of crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon of chives, minced
- 4 teaspoon of salt
- 5 oz of baby spinach
- ½ of a carrot, peeled, then sliced into matchsticks
- ¼ of an English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 hass avocado, de-seeded, peeled, then sliced
- 1 teaspoon of hemp hearts
- Gather all the salad ingredients. Break down all the vegetables and store everything in the fridge.
- For the dressing, mix everything in a small bowl and keep it in the fridge until the end.
- Remove the excess moisture from the crabs by dabbing them with paper towels, salt and set them aside.
- Whisk the egg whites for about 20 seconds or until frothy.
- Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, ground flax seeds, hemp hearts and sesame seeds for the breading.
- Now it’s time to dredge the crabs. You’ll need 4 lipped plates or trays (to prevent spillage) in total. 1.) is the crab, 2.) is the gluten-free flour (or cornstarch), 3.) is the whipped egg whites, and 4.) is the breading.
- Put on gloves and start by dredging one crab at a time. Using both hands, pick up the crab (wet hand) with one hand, place it in the flour and cover all crevices using your opposite hand (dry), then coat it in the beaten egg whites using your (wet) hand, then finally evenly coat with the nut breading using your (dry) opposite hand. Repeat this process for the other 3 crabs.
- Heat a big non-stick skillet/pan with the olive oil to medium, shallow fry the crabs for about 1-½ to 2 minutes on each side or until they’re golden brown and crispy. Place them on a rack on a baking tray to prevent the bottoms from getting soggy while you work on the salad component.
- In a large bowl, toss the spinach, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, avocado and hemp hearts with ¾ of the crème fraîche dressing, saving the rest for garnishing the fried soft-shell crabs. Finally, top the crabs with a teaspoon each of the caviar, lay all the crabs on the salad, and serve!
- If you want to use less oil, alternatively you can brush the breaded crabs with the amount of olive oil you want, then bake them in the oven at 400F on a roasting rack for 10 minutes or until golden brown (or for 7 minutes in an air fryer set to 375F)
- Soft shell crab cooks pretty quickly and with the nut crust, they can burn very easily. Everyone’s stove is different so keep an eye on the flame for best results.
- Any caviar works with this recipe. I used white sturgeon caviar which is pretty steeply priced but is way worth it.
- Where can I get soft shell crab? These are pretty rare depending on where you live but since I am from California and am blessed with a variety of seafood selections, I find these at my local seafood market and they’re super fresh. Try a local fishmonger or looking in Asian markets in the fish or freezer section.
- Can I substitute the crust? Yes of course. If you are not eating a gluten-free diet, you can substitute regular all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flour and use 4 tablespoons of panko and 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts for the breading.
- Is soft shell crab low in calories? Yes! Each 3oz medium sized crab packs 100 calories, 20 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 100 mg of calcium as well.
- Can I use the whole egg? Yes. I use the whites as a neutral flavored binding agent that does not overpower the precious crab taste.