Fried Soft Shell Crabs with Cool Cucumber Salad

It’s the week before the Fourth of July, so it’s time to start figuring out what you’re going to cook for the festivities! May I suggest that you go for a seafood theme, the centerpiece of which being these tasty cornmeal crusted (and fried, of course) soft shell crab sandwiches, topped with a cool cucumber salad? The combination really is fantastic, with the crabs being wonderfully crisp with just a hint of spice from the seasonings they were dipped in, and while the salad adds a refreshing element to the whole dish, making it perfect for a casual summer get together. You can serve these up on a nice brioche bun, or for those of you who want to indulge during the holiday while still watching what you eat, a bed of mixed greens works beautifully, too! If you’re hesitant to fry, don’t worry – you only need about an inch or so of oil to get going with these, so you don’t have to worry about deep frying anything. See? You have no excuses. While everyone else is doing the same burgers and hot dogs, your guests will be able to enjoy something completely different, and possibly even more delicious!

What you’ll need for your cool cucumber salad.

Thinly slice your cucumber and shallot.

Sprinkle with the vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes.

Toss until the sugar dissolves and set aside until ready to use.

What you’ll need for your soft shell crabs.

Whisk together your eggs and milk.

In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, cornmeal, and spices.

Dip your crabs first in the egg, then in the cornmeal, then again in the egg, then again in the cornmeal.

Heat your oil to 325 degrees F, then fry the crabs on each side for about 4 minutes, until golden.

Serve on top of a bun with the cucumber salad and some mustard, mayo, or Sriracha!

Fried Soft Shell Crabs with Cool Cucumber Salad
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

Cucumber and Shallot Salad
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Soft Shell Crabs
  • 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying (you want it to be about 1 inch deep in your pan)
  • 4 buns or rolls, for serving the crabs on
  • mayonnaise, mustard, Sriracha, lettuce, tomato, green onions (for serving)

Cucumber and Shallot Salad
  1. Peel the cucumber and slice it half, then slice thinly lengthwise, otherwise known as a julienne cut. Place the cucumbers in a bowl, then add the thinly sliced shallots. Pour the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper flakes over everything, and toss until the sugar has dissolved. Store in the fridge until ready to serve on top of the soft shell crabs. This is also delicious eaten on its own, and will keep well in an air-tight container for 24 hours.
Soft Shell Crabs
  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a shallow dish, such as a pie tin, and set aside. In another shallow dish, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and ground mustard.
  2. Pour about an inch deep worth of oil in your heavy bottomed pot or pan, and heat the oil to about 325 degrees F. Dip the crab in the egg mixture, then in the cornmeal, then again in the egg, then again in the cornmeal, to be sure you have the crabs well coated. Gently place the crabs in the oil, and fry until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Move the crabs to a plate lined with paper towels to drain for a minute or so, and serve on buns topped with the cucumber salad.


11 Responses

  1. Alli says:

    Ok, dumb question — where can you buy (good) soft-shell crab? Whole Foods? I had the best soft-shell crab at Brooklyn Star last week and between that and your post today I think somebody is trying to tell me something…

    • Sydney says:

      Alli: I got mine cleaned and everything from Fresh Direct, but I think Whole Foods would be a good bet so that they can clean them for you!

  2. Lindsey says:

    I LOVE Soft-shelled crabs, and your rendition sounds flippin’ delish!

  3. This looks like such a light and refreshing dish! And since it isn’t technically deep frying I really don’t have any excuses, like you said :) .

    Are you guys going to be entertaining for the 4th or bringing something to someones party? We’ve decided to stay close to home and just enough time with the little one. (Maybe we’ll try this dish then!)

  4. This looks delightful! I’ve always been intimidated by soft shell crabs after reading this post: But, I guess if someone will clean them for me, I could probably handle it! The salad looks fantastic. I bet it was great even by itself!

  5. I’ve never considered making my own soft shells! These look delicious!

  6. Jane M says:

    did you see the NYT article this morning about fried foods and fried soft shell crabs? You had your blog post first!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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