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Scarpetta's Summertime Soft Shell Crab with Pea Puree

CrabPhoto.jpgBy Chef & Owner Scott Conant


  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for a garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, plus more for a garnish
  • 2 slices bacon, preferably thick cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick lardons
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced asparagus (from about 10 asparagus)
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced green beans (from about 25 green beans) 
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion (from 2 large or 3 medium shallots)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot (from about 1 medium carrot)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika,
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2 cups soy oil or peanut oil for pan frying
  • 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned

Make a pea puree: In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, season with a generous pinch of salt, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add half of the peas and the chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the peas until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the parsley and the tarragon. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor (or use a hand blender right in the pot) and puree it. (You can make the pea puree ahead and refrigerate it; rewarm it before serving.)

Crisp the bacon: In a sauté pan, cook the bacon lardons until crispy. Remove them from the pan, reserve them in a warm place, and wipe the pan clean.

Cook the vegetables…

Cook the Vegetables: In the sauté pan, heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over medium
heat. Add the remaining peas, the asparagus, the green beans, the
carrot, and scallion. Season with a little salt and cook, stirring
occasionally to keep the vegetables from browning, until the vegetables
are crisp-tender. (You can add a little water to the pan to keep them
from browning. Divide the vegetables among four wide bowls. Divide the
pea puree among the bowls, too, and keep the bowls warm while you fry
the crab.
Fry the crabs: On a plate, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon kosher
salt, the paprika, and a few grinds of pepper. Position the flour
mixture near the stove. Also have a few layers of paper towel nearby
for draining the oil from the crabs.
Pour the oil into a sauté pan large enough to leave room around the
four crabs.  Add enough oil to come about 1/3-inch up the side of the
pan and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is quite hot. Dredge a
crab in the flour mixture, coating both sides well. Shake off the extra
flour and place the crab in the hot oil “shell” side down. Let the
crabs get golden brown on one side and then flip. (Be careful while the
crabs are frying sometimes they have the tendency to pop and spray
their now hot juices. If they’re spraying a lot, use a paring knife to
poke a hole or two in the belly.) After turning the crabs, let them
cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the oil and drain
them briefly on the paper towel.
To serve: Place a crab in each bowl. (A fun way to present them is to
cut the crabs in half, place one half down in the bowl and the other
half standing up with its legs facing up and out of the bowl.) Divide
the bacon among the bowls, garnish with a little fresh tarragon and
parsley, and serve immediately.
Note: To clean live crabs: Cut off the head approximately 1/4 inch
below the eyes. Press on the crab a little to squeeze out a green
bubble. Remove the gill filaments on each side of the crab by peeling
back the pointed soft shell and scraping these inedible gills out with
a paring knife. On the belly side, bend back the apron (or tail flap)
and pull using a slight twisting motion. Refrigerate until ready to

Address: 355 West 14th Street, btwn. 9th & 10th Aves.
Phone: (212)691-0555

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