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Reprinted from The Edge 2005.2006
Photo by Linda Lauby
Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Clusters with Three Dipping Sauces


• 1/2 dozen cleaned soft-shell crabs
• 1 egg
• 2/3 cup flour
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1 cup cold seltzer or club soda (we used Perrier)
• Salt and pepper

Make it easy on yourself: buy a deep-fat fryer and plug it in outside. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for amount of oil and optimal temperature. A good oil mixture is half peanut oil and half canola oil. Save the empty bottles for disposing of used oil when you're through.

This is a great dish for small or broken crabs (ones missing a leg or two). If crabs are small, cut each in half with a sharp scissors; if large, cut into quarters. Pat dry with paper toweling.

Preheat the deep-fat fryer. Beat egg and whisk in flour, cornstarch and seltzer, seasoning with salt and pepper. Dip soft-shell pieces in batter, shaking off excess. Place in hot oil, legs first. Do not crowd the fryer; it's best to fry the crabs in batches. Fry for 4 to 6 minutes or until a pale golden color, turning with tongs and making sure that pieces do not clump together. Remove to paper toweling to drain and repeat process with remaining crabs. Serve hot with dipping sauces.

Sesame-Soy Sauce:
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon each white and black sesame seeds

Wasabi Sauce:
• ¼ cup Duke's mayonnaise
• ¼ cup Batch #66 Jalapeno Wasabi Hot Sauce
• 1 tablespoon basil olive oil

Sweet-with-Heat Sauce:
• ½ cup Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
• 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
• 2 tablespoons honey

For each sauce, simply combine ingredients and serve in small bowls.

Greg’s Wine Pick:
Vinum Cellars (Elephantus Blanc) 2001
This is one of the California white blends that wonderfully breaks the rules of varietal wines; with 66% Chenin Blanc, 18% Roussanne and16% Viognier you get a wine that is better than the sum of its parts. The Chenin Blanc gives it floral fruit and a nice acidity while the Viognier and Rousanne add mouth wait and a nice oily richness to the finish. This wine has the versatility to work well with all of the dipping sauces used for the soft-shell crabs.

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