Fried hard-shell crabs taste their absolute best when eaten sizzling hot right out of the deep fryer. The proper method for eating fried “hard-shells” is to eat them in the very same manner in which you pick and eat boiled hard shell crabs. First chew off the batter crust. Then meticulously pick out every bit of the succulent crabmeat, eating it as you pick.
This recipe makes for a fantastic back-porch get-together with the neighbors; it can be the highlight of the snack table at a Sunday football game on TV; and no late-night snack beats cold fried hard-shells right from the fridge.
Makes 2 to 4 servings.
1 dozen Louisiana crabs, live and uncleaned
6 cups whole milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Frank Davis Garlic Hot Sauce
kosher or sea salt, to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs + 3/4 cup of evaporated milk (egg wash)
3 cups flour seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
The first thing you want to do is wash the crabs in clean running water. Then, just when you’re ready to begin cooking, scald them in boiling water. You don’t want to leave them in the hot water too long — just until they start to turn light pink, since all you want to do is keep them from biting you as you process them!
Now, while the crabs are scalding, mix up a spicy marinade by blending together the milk, lemon juice, paprika, mustard, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, hot sauce, and salt in a large bowl. Then set this aside for a while so the flavors can combine. While the marinade is curing, go ahead and make your egg wash by combining the 3 eggs and the 3/4 cup of evaporated milk; keep refrigerated until ready to use. Then, clean your crabs.
Here’s how it’s done: Remove the top shell, scrape away the gills, cut off the mouth, snap off the claws and the legs, and scoop out the fat. Take pains to clean them well. Then thoroughly wash them under cold running water and set them aside to drain. When they’re almost dry, cut them right down the middle so that you have 24 right and left halves. Now this is the time when you drop the crab halves into the marinade.
Marination is what makes this recipe so good, so cover the bowl, put it in the refrigerator, and let the crab halves soak for at least 3 hours (overnight is better). Keep in mind that the longer they soak the better seasoned they will be.
Then, when you’re ready to eat, lift the halves from the marinade, roll them thoroughly in the unseasoned flour, dip them in the eggwash, dredge them once more in the seasoned flour, and deep fry those rascals at about 375º F until they’re crusted over and golden brown.
All that’s left after that is to roll up your sleeves, break out the cold brewskies, and get after it! No doubt about it, you’ll lick every one of your fingers for sure!
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