Usually my menus are a little more cohesive. The one below, created last Friday evening for a girls’ night, was a bit disjointed, because I was easily swayed in the grocery store. With seasonal changes, new “exclusive” foods are showing up in the produce and seafood departments. Last Friday, I made a meal out of soft shell crabs, local “Easter Egg” radishes, local asparagus and tilapia. Somehow, it all worked out, if only because of the wine.
Soft shell crabs have made their way to Ohio. These little crustaceans are at the beginning (end?) of their molting cycle and they’re delicious. (And a whole lot easier to eat without having to extract them from their hardened shell a few months from now.)
I bought three of the little guys for our dinner. I did a little research about soft shell crabs and learned that like another seasonal delicacy, most recipes recommended pan frying. So simple.
Sautéed Soft Shelled Crab
Adapted from Parade, April 2002
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (I used heavy cream.)
4 small soft-shell crabs, cleaned
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the cream in a shallow bowl large enough to hold the crabs in a single layer. Add the crabs and let them soak for 1 hour. Drain and discard the milk. Season the flour with salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Lightly dredge each crab in the flour. Heat the oil and butter together in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and sautè the crabs in batches until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Add more oil and butter to the pan if necessary. Serve immediately.
Next up: radishes. Although I’ve not historically been a big fan of the spicy veggies, I found these radishes too cute to resist. I found a recipe for grilled radishes and decided to give it a go, even though the reviews were mixed and I didn’t feel like doing the work of thinly slicing them.
I did it anyway.
The result was fine, though many hardcore radish enthusiasts would question my morality – or sanity. The additions of garlic and butter to the radish softened the flavor, and they were removed from the grill before they completely lost their trademark crisp.
From libraryLady, allrecipes.com
20 ounces radishes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 cube ice
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the grill for high heat. Place the radishes, garlic, butter, and ice cube on a double layer of aluminum foil large enough to wrap contents. Season with salt and pepper. Tightly seal foil around contents. Place foil packet on the grill, and cook 20 minutes, or until radishes are tender.
And then there’s the tilapia. A look through my first-ever (and favorite) cookbook, taught me that tilapia is originally from Africa. (This cookbook, which was instrumental in teaching a girl who grew up on Schwan Man food how to cook, is amazing. It’s separated into three parts: ingredients, tools and recipes. In this instance, I used it to learn about the ingredient.) So, of course, the dinner was made complete with a dish simply titled African Tilapia.
By Derrick Riches, About.com
2 pounds tilapia fillets
1 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I didn’t have these.)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons cayenne or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients except for the tilapia. Mix well until the salt is dissolved. Place tilapia in a glass dish and cover with marinade. Turn to coat and set aside for 20 minutes. Preheat grill. Pour marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool. Grill tilapia fillets of a medium high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until the fish flakes easily and has an even appearance all the way through. Serve by pouring a small amount of the sauce over the tilapia fillets.
All in all, it was a strange meal. Soft shell crabs (usually found in sandwiches), grilled radishes, and African-style tilapia. What sort of dessert would tie it all together?
Pocky, of course. And Spanish wine. Lots and lots of Spanish wine.