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Soft-shell Po' Boy with Chipotle Tartar Sauce

Yield Makes 6 servings


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 jumbo soft-shell crabs, dressed
  • 6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices red onion
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 soft-crusted hoagie rolls, split
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup masa harina or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • Chipotle Tartar Sauce
  • 6 small romaine lettuce leaves
  • 12 thin slices ripe tomato
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 12 slices
  • 3/4 cup alfalfa or radish sprouts
  • Lime wedges

How to Make It

  1. Whisk milk and ancho chile and garlic powders in a shallow bowl until combined; add crabs. Cover and chill 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, brush red onion slices with 1 tablespoon oil. Grill or broil 4 minutes per side. Set aside. Spread cut sides of rolls with butter, and grill or toast until golden brown.

  3. Combine cornmeal and next 3 ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine crumbs; transfer mixture to a shallow dish. Drain crabs, and discard milk mixture. Dredge crabs in cornmeal mixture.

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

  5. Spread toasted sides of rolls with Chipotle Tartar Sauce. Top with a lettuce leaf, 2 slices each tomato and avocado, a grilled red onion slice, and a fried crab. Top with sprouts and a squeeze of lime.

  6. Wine note: "When I hear that a seafood dish has a kick, I reflexively go to the fire-extinguishing quality of a German Riesling. A light, off-dry Riesling such as Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett ($20) or Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett ($16) will tame the heat emanating from the chile and garlic powders in this preparation. These wines' mouthwatering tanginess--so admirable in a good Riesling--will refresh the palate after a mouthful of fried crab." --Mark Oldman