I've wanted to make Tempura Soft Shell Crabs for the longest time, no kidding. It honestly is one of my favourite things to eat. I mean, who doesn't like soft shell crabs...???
Ever since I realised that almost every fish monger at Victoria Market sells them (you'll see it at the freezers behind them) and at such a reasonable price too, I knew I had to make them. Typically, they are sold at about $20/kg and each box works out to be approx. 1kg (or a dozen crabs).
I was hosting a Japanese themed potluck at my place over the weekend and I knew it would be the perfect occasion to try.
Even though it was my first time cleaning a crab and making tempura for that matter, these babies turned out AMAZING! They were perfectly crispy, with a moist, delicate flesh and even had bits of crab roe inside which gave extra flavour. Just like the restaurants, if not better (cause they're fresh), seriously...
Plus, you really cannot help but get so excited at the sight of a whole TRAY of soft shell crabs in front of you. Each person gets their own crab, what a treat. Not to mention the CRUNCH you hear from everyone at the table taking their first bite into the crab.... Heaven
My only advice for people cooking this for the first time is to be extra gentle when preparing the crabs. After they're thawed, they become extremely delicate and the legs may break off easily. Besides that, it actually is quite a simple process, which I learned all on Youtube (lol).
Also, I'll share with you how you can make this much earlier in the day (so that you have more time to do other stuff before guests arrive) and reheat them well so they are still super crisp, as if they were fresh out of the fryer.
Anyway, I hope you give this recipe a go. It gets people excited when you say that you're cooking soft shell crabs for them. Tastes bloody delicious too. Definitely a crowd pleaser.
Tempura Soft Shell Crab Recipe
(serves 10 - 12, adapted from this recipe by SBS Food)
12 soft shell crabs *
1 1/2 cup tempura flour
300ml chilled soda water
1 lime (juiced)
1 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup plain flour
Oil for frying
*Note: Can get them frozen from Victoria Market. Otherwise, ask your local fish monger.
1. If using frozen, thaw the crabs by removing from the fridge several hours before cooking.
2. To prepare the crabs, use a pair of kitchen scissor to cut the face off behind the eyes. Then, peel off the flap or "apron" of the crab. Lift the sides of the crab shell and remove the gills. Handle the crabs delicately.
3. Pat the crabs dry with a paper towel and set aside until ready for use. To prepare the batter, whisk the tempura flour with the soda water, lime juice and egg until well combined. Stir in the cup of ice.
4. Heat up enough oil in a pot or pan until it is deep enough for frying.
5. Coat the crab thoroughly with plain flour and dip them in the batter. Once oil is hot enough, fry the crabs in batches until crab turns red and batter is golden in colour (slightly under 2 min per side).
Tip: Drizzle more tempura batter on top of the crab with a fork before you flip them over to add extra CRUNCH
6. Remove to cool on a wire rack. Serve hot.
Tip: If cooking few hours ahead, leave the crab on a wire rack on a benchtop to cool. An hour before eating, place the rack of crabs in an oven at 60°C to keep warm. Just before serving, increase the heat to 180°C for 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven. This will make sure your crabs still remain crunchy and fresh.
A gorgeous sight
Unbelievably tasty and crunchy