Friday, July 9, 2010
fried soft shell crab with rice and creamed kale
crispy soft shell crab
One food blog that I really admire is Caviar and Codfish. I found it back in late March, whilst trying to find the recipe for The Red Cat's phenomenal bacon chard pie. While I never did find that recipe, I've been following Robin's postings at Caviar and Codfish on and off ever since. The pictures are absolutely beautiful and the food always sounds amazing. Two of her more recent entries involve soft shell crab, something I like but would never thought of cooking myself.
Fast forward to late June. My dad and I are in Harlem, enjoying some quality father-daughter bonding time. As we walk down 125th st to Dinosaur BBQ, we pass specialty grocery store Citarella, and my eye is drawn to a sign proclaiming, "we have soft shell crab!"
Two days later, with Nathan away in Italy, I decide to skip my usual Tuesday movie night and try some soft shell crab. At $5.99 a piece, they aren't particularly cheap, but since it's just me, I only need one. Cooking the crab is incredibly easy. I dredge it in a mixture of salt and pepper, flour and a little cornmeal and pan fry it in hot melted butter for three minutes on each side.
As for the accompaniments, I decide to make some rice and follow Robin's lead and serve my crab with creamed spinach. However, I've got no spinach. What I do have is kale. Kale that has been sitting in my fridge taunting me for weeks. It's getting yellower and yellower, and I know if I don't eat it soon, it will die out of spite. Maybe, instead of the spinach, I could cream kale? First google hit: Bobby Flay. This could be just crazy enough to work...
I dice a shallot and cook it in melted butter until it is nice and soft. Then I add a spoonful or two of flour, and stir that around for a few minutes. Then I pour in some cream, and let that thicken as I stir it. A few sprinkles of nutmeg, and I am really to add my steamed chopped kale. I mix it all together, season with salt and pepper, and it's ready to go. But how does it taste?
AHA! I have discovered a way to cook kale that I actually like! Of course, a load of butter and cream will make most things taste ok, but still. Maybe I'm starting to come around on kale. I think the reason I find kale so off putting is that it really doesn't look like a vegetable. It looks like vegetation. And sure enough, there are varieties of kale that are purely ornamental. Something about the thick stems seems woody, although I suppose they aren't really so bad. If I treat kale like I would spinach or chard, maybe I'll like it more. Maybe we can even be friends.
And how was the crab, you ask? Pretty much awesome. It was crispy and yummy and wow soft shell crab is good. There was ONE thing I thought was weird though. You're supposed to clean soft shell crab by cutting off the eyes and the top of the head and emptying out the organs, or whatever. The fish dudes at Citarella said they would do this for me, and they certainly were off in the back doing something with it before they wrapped it up for me to take home. However, when I cut into my crab, a huge amount of light green liquid oozed out of the head, seeping into my kale and rice. I was worried that they didn't clean it properly, or that I didn't cook it long enough, but the flesh was all very white and firm, so I just ate it, goo and all. It was delicious, if unsightly. I asked Robin if this was normal, and she wrote back said it was just tomalley and internal fat, akin to the green goo you find in lobsters. I was glad to know there was nothing amiss with my dish, and learned a bit about crabs to boot!
creamed kale over rice with a soft shell crab