Soft Shell Crabs, Garden Herbs and Blue Sky

Photo: Horia Varlan/Flickr

These are insanely gorgeous days. I’ve been spending long hours planting vegetables and pulling weeds, getting my back ready for the summer garden season. When I come in at night, my bones ache with the sweet pain of spring.

But the rewards have already begun. There’s parsley and chives that wintered over in the garden, parsnips from a friend’s farm that sweetened up under the frozen soil all winter, and soft shell crabs from the sea. Warm days, blue skies and cold nights. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs with Chives, Parsley and Brown Lemon Butter

1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
4 soft shell crabs, have the fish store clean them for you
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon or Meyer lemon, washed, dried and cut into paper thin slices

Place the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate and mix. Lightly dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour and set aside.

In a large, heavy skillet heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil over moderately high heat. Add a drop of flour;  it should sizzle immediately in the pan. Add the crabs and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle with half the chives and parsley and carefully flip the crabs over. Cook another 3 minutes on the other side. Add the remaining oil, the chives and parsley and place the lemon slices around the crabs and cook 2 minutes. Serve the crabs topped with any pan juices and the sautéed lemon slices on top.

Serves 2 to 4.