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Soft-shell Crab with Citrus-Saffron Butter Sauce

Yield Makes 4 servings


  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chervil, tarragon, or Italian parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 8 jumbo soft-shell crabs, dressed
  • 1/2 cup instant-blending flour (Wondra)
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • Freshly steamed asparagus spears
  • Hot cooked couscous

How to Make It

  1. Bring orange juice and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; boil over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Reduce heat to low; whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, until combined. Remove from heat; stir in chervil, salt, and pepper.

  2. Dredge crabs in flour just until lightly coated. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add half the crabs, top-side down; sauté 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden, adding more oil, if needed. Drain crabs on paper towels, then transfer to a baking sheet in a 200° oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and crabs.

  3. Serve crabs with asparagus and couscous; drizzle with the butter sauce.

  4. "Did somebody say citrus-saffron? Sounds like a classic template for Sauvignon Blanc. Compared to light, lean versions from France, Artesa Sauvignon Blanc Reserve ($25), like many American versions, tends to have a bit more creaminess that pairs well with the rich sautéed crab. But it will also have plenty of the grape's characteristic herbalness-- a satisfying match with the asparagus, whose unusual taste often makes it a problem-child for wine." --Mark Oldman