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Soft-Shell Crabs With Chinese Hot Garlic And Black Bean Sauce

It surprises Orleanians–who like to think that all the dishes we like originally came from our city–that crabs are also much enjoyed in the Asian coastal cuisines. Many Asian recipes for soft-shell crabs exist. And they know what we know: that the crabs must be fried somewhere along the line. This is a spicy Chinese approach to the delectable beasts, with a sauce that doesn’t take over.

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbs. water
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped green onions
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 4 large soft-shell crabs, cleaned and cut in half front to back
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. hot bean sauce (available at Oriental markets)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

1. Mix the egg, cornstarch blend, soy sauce, chopped green onions, and black pepper. Dip the crabs in the mixture to coat. Shake off the excess.

2. Heat the vegetable oil to almost smoking in a heavy skillet or wok over high heat. Fry the crab halves, two at a time, until crisp on the outside but still soft and moist inside. Remove from the pan, drain, and keep warm.

3. Pour out the oil from the pan, but don’t wipe. Add all the other ingredients and stir to blend until boiling rapidly–about one minute.

4. Place one crab on each plate, and spoon the sauce over it. Serve immediately.

Serves four.

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