Fettuccine With Crabmeat And A Soft Shell Crab

This kind of dish was extremely popular in the 1980s at the gourmet bistros around town. It is profligate in its use of crabmeat, which is why we probably don’t see it as often as we once did. What makes this recipe neat is that you serve it, if you like, topped with a small fried soft-shell crab. If you leave out the soft-shell, use a whole pound of crabmeat.

The cool weather the rest of this week is the beginning of the end for this year’s crabmeat and soft-shell crabs. So now is the perfect time for this only-in-New Orleans dish.


  • For soft-shell crabs:
  • 4 small soft shell crabs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 beaten eggs mixed with 3 Tbs. milk
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 12 oz. (precooked weight) cooked fettuccine

1. Wash and clean the soft-shell crabs. Blend the salt and pepper into the flour and coat the crabs lightly. Dip the crabs into the egg-and-milk mixture, then dredge through the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour.

2. Melt butter in skillet and add green onions and mushrooms. Saute until the onions just begin to soften.

3. Add crabmeat, garlic, and wine. Bring the wine to a boil and let most of it evaporate. Agitate but don’t stir the pan, to keep from breaking up the crabmeat.

4. Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Allow to reduce over medium-high heat for one to two minutes, until the sauce is noticeably thicker.

5. Add cooked fettuccine and toss with sauce. Remove from heat.

6. Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a deep skillet or saucepan to 375 degrees. Drop crabs in oil two at a time and fry until golden brown. Drain excess oil in a fine sieve.

7. Divide the pasta among plates and top with fried soft shell crab.

Serves four.

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