Archive for September 23rd, 2011

Chipotle-Dusted Soft-Shell Crabs with Pineapple-Mint Salsa - BBQ And Grilling Recipes

Crustaceans, such as shrimp, lobsters, and crabs, have to shed their shells in order to grow. During the brief period that they are shell-less they are completely vulnerable to attack by other crustaceans, larger fish, and us. Soft-shell crabs have all of the succulence of blue crabs with none of the hassle. In this recipe the crabs are seasoned with chipotle pepper, a smoky spice that plays remarkably with their sweet, salty tang. Pineapple salsa is served alongside to help cool your palate.

TIMING
Prep: 20 minutes
Grill: 5 minutes.

BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Clean grill screen
– Long-handled tongs.

THE GRILL
Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (425° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Charcoal:
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Wood:
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS, 2 CUPS SALSA)
For the crabs:
8 soft-shell crabs, about 5 ounces each
1 lime, halved
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for coating grill screen
No-stick spray oil
For the salsa:
1 cup (about 10 ounces) finely chopped fresh pineapple
1 cup finely chopped fresh tomato
¼ cup finely diced red onion
½ to 1 serrano chile (depending on how hot you like it), seeds and stem removed, finely chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves.

DIRECTIONS
1. If the crabs have not been “dressed”, you will have to trim them yourself.
2. Heat the grill as directed.
3. Put the crabs on a plate; squeeze the lime juice over the top and flip them over several times to coat. Mix the chipotle and salt and sprinkle over both sides of the crabs. Refrigerate.
4. Mix all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl.
5. Put the grill screen on the grill and coat it with oil. Spray the  crabs on both sides with oil and grill for 3 minutes on the red side (top) and 2 minutes on the white side (bottom).
6. Serve topped with some of the salsa, with the remainder passed at the table.

SOFT SHELLS: DRESSED TO GRILL
To prepare soft-shell crabs for grilling, you must remove any hard, tough, or inedible parts. This sounds more distasteful than it is. Think of yourself as a culinary surgeon, and you should do just fine. Although the job can be done with a small, sharp knife it is easier and less messy with scissors.
1. Place the crab on a plate to catch the juices. Snip off the eyes, removing as little of the top shell as possible. Snip off the hard manacles of the mouth on the beige underside of the crab, again removing as little as possible of the tender regions surrounding it.
2. Snip off the “apron” on the underside of the crab. In male crabs the apron is pointed. In female crabs it is shaped like a shield.
3. Flip the crab over so that its red side is facing up, and snip off the spongy, finger-shaped gills that lie under the top “shell” on either side of the crab’s body.
4. Rinse the crabs and pat dry; discard all of the snipped-off parts.

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