Japanify: Soft-Shelled Sacrifice
I admire killers. I admire butchers, mongers, soldiers and... Dexter. I admire them for the balls and boobies they possess to kill with confidence--without squealing or being a hesitant little sissy.
They don't do things like "name" their kill--like I did for my two soft-shell crab buddies Rod and Todd. I am a total squealer when it comes to killing. I try to justify the kill by trying to personify and humanize the victim. I say stupid things like, "Oh! I am sorry! Does that hurt?" and "Gah! I know, I am horrible!!"
When I am huddled on the couch wasting precious minutes of my consciousness watching Dateline NBC, I often hear about serial killers who tell their victims to "shut up" and "don't say anything or I'll hurt you." Sympathy and small talk disturbs the process of killing. This is why I am a horrible killer.
To justify my soft-shell crab kill, I sacrificed Rod and Todd to the Umami God. And I have given them a resting place, here on Umamimart, to immortalize their brilliant life and subsequent death (on my hands).
Soft-shell crab bodies measure about five inches across. They are a beautiful gray-blue with hints of orange on the tips of their legs.
They are really pliable. When you press on their body, they bend to the pressure.
Soft-shell crabs are named for the stage in their life when they have recently shed their exoskeleton, revealing a new, soft and delicate layer that will eventually harden. There are several species that are caught as soft-shell crabs. In the States, blue crabs are caught and in Japan, blue or swimming crabs are caught. In its soft-shell state, their armor is completely edible to humans.
During my visit to New York in early May, I noticed that the fish markets were busting with soft-shell crab. I couldn't wait to get home to my fish monger in Berkeley to see his spread as well. Sure enough, my fish monger's case was gleaming with a chorus line of soft-shell crabs. Soft-shell crab season in the States is April to September.
I asked my fish monger how I could prepare Rod and Todd simply. This is the method which he described.
2 soft-shell crabs
1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Throw live soft-shell crab into the bowl and coat well.
3. Heat a pan with about 1/4 inch of oil on high.
4. Once the oil is really hot, place the coated crab, top side down into the pan. Fry this side for 1-2 minutes and then fry the other side for 1-2 minutes.
I transferred dead Rod and Todd onto a dry cutting board and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
I served them with a little soy sauce and a dab of wasabi.
Sometimes I make a cross-eyed face when something is really delicious. I am pretty sure this was happening as I enjoyed these guys.
Soft-shell crab is so juicy, with its guts spilling all over the place. I loved the way it was so full of flavor with just a dash of salt and pepper and that when you bite into it, it's almost like a cherry tomato, where the delicate skin encases an umamiful treasure.
And if you've ever shelled a regular, hard-shell crab before, you realize it's a real gift to be able to savor the taste of crab without the long and tedious task of peeling and shelling.
RIP Rod and Todd.