Saut\u00e9ed Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches With Pickled Vegetables, Cilantro, and Ginger-Chili Mayo

Each of these large banh mi-style sandwiches is packed with three crispy soft-shell crabs. [Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

Inspired by both the Cantonese dish of crabs sautéed with scallions and ginger, and Vietnamese banh mi, these oversized soft-shell crab sandwiches feature lightly toasted soft baguettes packed with three crisp sautéed soft-shell crabs each, along with ginger-chili mayo, quick-pickled carrots and cucumbers, fresh scallions, and cilantro.

Why this recipe works:

  • Dredging the crabs in cornstarch and sautéeing them in neutral oil results in crabs with a crisp, shattering shell and clean flavor.
  • Quick-pickling the carrots and cucumbers in seasoned rice vinegar adds just enough tang while not requiring a lengthy pickling time.

Note: While the pickles are ready in just 25 minutes, they can also be refrigerated overnight before using.

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Sautéed Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches With Pickled Vegetables, Cilantro, and Ginger-Chili Mayo

About This Recipe

Yield:Makes 2 large sandwiches, serving 2 to 4
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeds removed, split lengthwise into 1/4-inch spears
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek, Sriracha, or other chili paste
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh peeled ginger, finely grated on microplane
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated on microplane
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 6 large soft-shell crabs, preferably jumbo or "whale" size, cleaned
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Vietnamese-style baguettes, split and lightly toasted, or 1 French baguette, halved, split, and lightly toasted
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Cilantro leaves and fine stems from 1 bunch, for serving

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine carrot, cucumber, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using fingertips, massage salt and sugar into vegetables until dissolved. Add rice vinegar and water and let stand for at least 25 minutes.

  2. 2

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, thoroughly mix together mayonnaise, chili paste, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt.

  3. 3

    In a shallow bowl, stir together cornstarch with a pinch of salt. Lightly dredge crabs in the seasoned cornstarch.

  4. 4

    In a large, wide skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add crabs, shell-side down, and cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes; be careful, as soft-shell crabs sometimes pop in the pan. Flip crabs and cook until golden and crisp on bottom side, about 3 minutes. Transfer crabs to paper-towel-lined plates.

  5. 5

    Drain carrot and cucumber. Spread top and bottom halves of baguettes with ginger-chili mayonnaise. Arrange 3 crabs on each of the bottom halves and top with scallions and pickled carrot and cucumber. Top with cilantro sprigs, close sandwiches, and serve immediately.

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