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Soft-Shell Crab with Curried Tomato Sauce and Cumin Vinaigrette
Makes 4 Servings
*1 shallot, minced
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1 tbls. minced peeled fresh ginger
*2 tsp. minced lemongrass
*2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil
*1 tsp. spicy Madras curry powder
*1 tsp. sweet curry powder
*4 small red tomatoes, diced
*2 tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
*1 tbls. white wine vinegar
*1/2 cup water
*Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*2 tbls. flour
*1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and ground
*Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*1 1/2 tbls. grapeseed oil
*4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
*1 tbls. cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
*1 tbls. white wine vinegar
*1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
*1 tbls. chopped fresh chives
*4 leaves Belgian endive, julienned
*1/2 Granny Smith apple, julienned
*3 tbls. pine nuts, toasted
*Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*4 tsp. finely chiffonade-cut fresh cilantro
1To prepare the sauce: Saute the shallot, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powders, tomatoes, cilantro, vinegar and water; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the flavors have melded. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2To prepare the crabs: Mix the flour and pine nuts together and season with salt and pepper. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Dredge the soft-shell crabs in the flour mixture; add to the pan and saute for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and cut each crab in half; season with salt.
3To prepare the vinaigrette: Just before serving, whisk the cumin and vinegar together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Warm the vinaigrette over medium heat until hot. Turn off the heat and add the chives, endive, apple and pine nuts; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4Assembly: Spoon some of the sauce and cumin vinaigrette onto each plate. Stand up 2 soft-shell crab halves in the center of each plate and spoon over more of the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
5WINE NOTES: The curried tomato sauce and the cumin vinaigrette pack a punch, so it is important that the wine choice favor the taste of the crab. An Austrian Gewurztraminer from Gross does the trick. This wine is lighter and more acrobatic than most of its flabby, slow-moving cousins from Alsace. All of the spice notes in the Gross work to tame the agressive sauce, allowing the flavor of the soft-shells to shine.
  • This curried tomato sauce is a stellar accompaniment to the soft-shell crabs. The tomatoes' natural acidity cuts into the rich flavor of the crab and the curry provides an intoxicatingly exotic note. For a final touch of whimsy, a cumin vinaigrette stream with pinenuts, apple and Belgian endive is spooned about the plate. Grilled shrimp or even chicken is an excellent substitute for the crab.

Recipes courtesy of Workin' More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter, published by Ten Speed Press, 2004