Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boys with Sriracha Aioli

Soft Shell Crab Po' 6oy 1

This is another of the recipes that I had scheduled before leaving for Italy last April. Most will be held until next year when they better match the season. Because soft shell crabs are still available, even if frozen, I decided to go ahead and publish this recipe. 

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In the first soft shell crab recipe I shared, it was mentioned that I was introduced to them at a restaurant in The Loop. For lunch that day, the crabs were served open-faced on a baguette. Since then, although I’ve enjoyed them several ways, that first meal has always been on my mind. I’ve since replicated the dish but, rather than open-faced, I prefer to serve them in the style of a po’ boy sandwich.

Like beignets at the Cafe du Monde, po’ boy sandwiches are a signature dish of New Orleans. Whether the protein used is meat or seafood, all are served on a relatively thinly crusted French roll with lettuce, very often sliced tomato, and a sauce. That sauce could be an aioli, rémoulade, tartar sauce, or even just plain mayo. For me, a well-made po’ boy is about as good a sandwich that there is.

When I first tried to make a soft shell crab po’ boy, I experimented with batters to coat the crabs. Although each attempt was tasty, the crab wasn’t as crispy as I wanted. I then switched over to using Panko bread crumbs but first I coated the crabs in corn starch before dipping them in the egg and dredging them in the bread crumbs. Once fried, I used them in a sandwich made with freshly baked rolls, a spicy garlic aioli, and with tomatoes out of season, I added a bit of pickle on top. The result? Well, I swore that I heard singing as I took that first bite. OK, maybe that was just me but it sure was a tasty sandwich!

The recipe itself is very easy to follow. I’ve included links and recipes should you wish to duplicate the sandwich exactly.

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Soft Shell Crab Po' Boy 2

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Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boy Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients

  • Soft shell crabs, cleaned
  • enough corn starch to cover each crab
  • salt, pepper, sweet paprika, to taste (See Notes)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • about 2 tbsp milk
  • Panko breadcrumbs to coat each crab
  • oil for frying (I used grape seed oil)

for the aioli

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves, smashed (see Notes for recipe)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Sriracha sauce, more/less to taste
  • 6 to 8 oz (177 ml to 237 ml) olive oil (see Notes)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Soft Shell Crab Po' Boy 3

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Directions

  1. Make the aioli:
    • Place the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, and Sriracha sauce into the bowl of a food processor.
    • Season lightly with salt and pepper and process.
    • Once fully combined and while the processor continues to run, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until the aioli reaches the consistency you prefer.
    • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  2. Set up a breading station:
    • In a not-too-shallow dish, combine the corn starch, salt, pepper, and paprika. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
    • In another equally shallow dish, add the egg & milk and stir to combine .
    • In a 3rd dish, create an even layer of Panko breadcrumbs.
  3. Meanwhile, begin heating the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. You want the oil to be a depth of about an inch and to reach a temperature of about 165˚ F.
  4. When the oil nears the correct temperature, dredge the crabs in the dry flour mixture. before giving them a bath in the egg mixture.
  5. Remove the crabs and allow the excess egg mixture to drain a bit before placing each in the Panko breadcrumbs. Be sure each crab is evenly coated with breadcrumbs before placing in the hot oil. The crabs will spatter when they hit the oil, so, be very careful not to burn your hands/fingers.
  6. The crabs will reach golden brown in about 2 minutes. Carefully flip each one and continue frying an additional 2 minutes or until the crabs are evenly colored. Frying times may vary depending upon the pan size, heat/flame setting, and number of crabs being fried simultaneously. Keep an eye on them.
  7. Remove crabs to drain on paper towels and season with salt before placing on a serving platter.
  8. Bring to the table with sliced rolls, lettuce, the aioli, pickles, tomato slices, lemon wedges, and/or whatever condiments you prefer.

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Soft Shell Crab Po' Boy 5

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Notes

Knowing that the aioli was flavorful as well as spicy, I used a light hand when seasoning the components of the dish. Of course, you’re free to season the dish as much, or as little, as you like.

One of the key points of a true Po’ Boy sandwich is the bread. A form of French bread, the rolls have an even crumb and relatively soft crust. The crunch in this sandwich is on the inside. (Pssst. It’s the crabs.) I found a recipe for New Orleans French bread on the Saveur website and enjoyed it very much. I did halve the recipe, however, since I didn’t wish to watch bread go stale on my counter top.

Although I used olive oil to make my aioli, you may prefer to use a lighter oil instead.

To roast garlic:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400˚ F (200˚ C)
  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the top of a whole garlic bulb.
  • Place the bottom section, cut-side up, in a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Drizzle the bulb with olive oil before sealing the foil around the bulb.
  • Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Cool before using.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Zucchini Blossom Look Back

Have too large a harvest of zucchini come August? Well, why not stuff a few blossoms now and get ahead of the problem? Today’s look back will show you how it’s done. All you need do now is to click HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Bone Marrow Risotto - Preview

Beef Bone Marrow Risotto with Porcini and Morel Mushrooms

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96 thoughts on “Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boys with Sriracha Aioli

  1. This looks so tasty, John. I like using roasted garlic for the aioli. I’ve never seen fresh soft shell crabs here, but I’ll see if I can get them frozen. I wonder with the flavorful sauce and the breading, if one can really taste the crabs? Or is it the texture of thd shells that makes the difference here?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Stefan. The Japanese and Venetians both have a type of soft shell crab but ours are different because they shed their shells all at once, making a gigantic harvest possible every June or so; I agree with both of your observations. I very much prefer roasted garlic in my aioli. I find that raw garlic can be a bit harsh. And, yes, too much spice and the crab taste could be obliterated. Maybe I should do some tests to see if I can find the spice-taste threshold. I know, Stefan, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! Not to mention that I have a couple crabs just languishing in my freezer even as I type. Don’t you just love science! :)D

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Debi.They are a darn good sandwich and, with a couple in my freezer, I think its time I get the dough hook and make me some bread. 🙂
      BTW … Some gremlins must have come to correct the problem. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Storms! Outages! At last: we actually have electricity and not -2C inside !!!! So am kind’of late’!!! Weep copiously [:) !!!] ’cause can’t get these crabs here. And Po’boys somehow belong to the fascinating north!! Love the aioli and shall to replicate the closest . . . so glad you are back to be a mentor! And beef bone marrow to follow . . . OMG [with apologies!]

    Like

    • Et tu? We’re in the pause between 2 thunderstorms. So far, the worst has hit to our north but Chicago didn’t come out unscathed. We may not be so lucky with this second system. The first missed our farming friend but not so sure about the next one. Fingers crossed …
      I returned to the fishmonger week after week to get those crabs. Switched to the frozen ones because I wanted to make sure I could stretch the bounty for as long as I could. Now, I’m on a marrow risotto kick. I’ve got frozen marrow bones and stock in my freezer, right alongside the crabs. I really do love it! Looking forward to your “review”. 🙂

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      • 🙂 ! Milord, you know ahead exactly what my ‘review’ will say!! Well, I’ll try and ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’ 🙂 ! [ And I remember eating in the same Heidelberg (Germany) restaurant three nights running just to get a big bowl of steamed bone marrow as an appetizer – ‘yikes’ as a dear friend would say!!! ]. Now marrow bones I can get here from the local butcher at any time: did not even think one could freeze them. As far as common friend goes: I can do most things with grace: I could not live there . . . all fingers crossed!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that my neighborhood butcher has closed, I’ve had to shop elsewhere for my marrow. When I see it, usually frozen, I buy it but I do need to check around to see if I can get it fresh. It’s not just something I think of very often and writing lists does little good when the list is left on the desktop. 🙂

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      • John – just looked up your Met status [have it ‘on’ because of common friend!] – well now I am holding fingers crossed for you too! Hope you won’t lose roof tiles or trees or your roses either . .sugar, both this night and all tomorrow!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Judging by the reduction in thunder and lightning, Eha, it seems that the worst has passed. Thanks for checking in. I just looked at the weather maps, it looks like the worst will miss our friend to the south. Thank the weather gods! They need a break from al of these storms, As you saw, however, we’ve got more coming tomorrow. It may be time to consider building an ark. 🙂

          Like

          • 🙂 !!! My ‘like’ button does not work or Idiot me does not know how to make it work, but GOOD!! Day by day: we are into the ‘windy’ season for three months with line squalls up to 120 km every 2-3 days: nasty and dangerous!! Last day TdF tonight [yes, ‘my’ guy will probably win and the Alps were glorious until it rained and thundered like mad there too for the last 48 hours!] and last of this year’s wonderful Masterchef on Tuesday – might even get some work done and letters written before Rio begins [why do I have so many bad feelings . . .?] over and out Milord!!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. They look absolutely delicious. I particularly like the idea of sriracha aioli – I’ll have to try it, I’ve got some in the fridge. I’m very much looking forward to the Beef Bone Marrow Risotto coming next 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of all who follow this blog, I knew that this recipe would hit home with you, MD. I still remember your speaking of marrow sausages and I still intend to make them — if I can ever quit using all the marrow I find to make this risotto. Until then, though, I sure am enjoying this! 🙂

      Like

    • After “cleaning” a couple crabs a few seasons ago, I felt it best to let the professionals do the job. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t do it if there was no other way, however. I really do love ’em!

      Like

  4. Oh my word John, am swooning at the thought of these gorgeous sandwiches. I think in England I can get hold of frozen soft shell crabs at a Chinese Supermarket….can’t wait to try them! Hope all ok with you, big abraccio!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was the season of soft shell crabs, Tanya. (I’ve moved on to marrow risotto now.) I do hope you can get some of these crabs, You’re in for a real treat!
      All’s well, here, my friend, spending a lot of time in the yard with Max. I hope all’s well with you guys up on the mountain. 😉

      Like

  5. Soft shell crabs are ambrosia, aren’t they? One of my favorite foods. Too bad the season is so short, although I’ve never tried the frozen version. (Well, I know I have at restaurants, but never at home.) I’ve had one po’ boy version, at a restaurant, but it wasn’t very good — the crab wasn’t nearly crisp enough. Sounds like you’ve figured that out! Good recipe — thanks.

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    • I so agree, John. This season I just couldn’t get my fill. I’ve only seen them frozen at my fishmonger. I trust him and know that they’ve not been around for months. I should check a couple of the high end groceries next year and see if they carry the crabs frozen. Yeah, that’s all I need, another source. There’ll be “Wanted: ChgoJohn” posters all over soft shell crabland! 🙂

      Like

  6. John, I have not had soft shell crab in over 20 years since I lived on the East coast. Alas, it is not available in the PNW. (Although we do have our Dungeness crab which kinda makes up for that…) The aioli looks great, and I too look forward to beef bone marrow risotto as I have quite a few languishing in my freezer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can hear the angelic chorus from here. I’ve just (ahem) finished cleaning out the bowl after making Eton Mess and I swear I could still eat one of your po’ boys. And Sriracha mayo, too. If I wasn’t already happily married I’d be checking out your status. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Enough with the teasing John! I can’t get the soft shell crabs and I’m not familiar with a po’ boy either, but, whatever it is, I’d certainly like to try it as I love shellfish. I love the fact that you tell us about the different things you have tried to get to the best recipe. It certainly shows the effort you have made before you share with us, Amanda 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I’ve still got more crabs in my freezer but had to put an end to these sandwiches. All that fried food wasn’t the best thing for me as I, too, am losing weight. It sure was a good run while it lasted, though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just left your site where I pinned the recipe. It’s is on my “Must cook” list, to be sure. I can see we are of the same mind when it comes to these little darlings. YUM!

      Like

  9. I’ve not had soft shell crab in ages and a po’ boy is the best way to enjoy one. I’m pretty sure the first time I ever tasted one was in a sandwich. Your version looks like perfection and I love the addition of the sriracha to add some kick to the sauce. Mmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mmmm is right, Betsy. I was in heaven this spring, although I had to put o the brakes. I “enjoyed” far too much fried crab. Far too much. That’s not a complaint, mind you. Just a statement of fact. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Really? I would have guessed you and Steve had prepared these any number of ways. If I could, I’d ship some to you just to learn how you two would prepare them. I know it would be delicious!

      Like

  10. I truly wish this software had the ability to LOVE, because that is exactly what I think of this post, my dear friend. I have had sorry and expensive versions of the Po’ Boy and at the cost of lunch on Toronto, I have been sorely disappointed. Soft, white, mushy, hotdog buns. Overcooked rubbery lobster (they use lobster here)…need I go on? You know what I mean. Your sandwich tops them all! I am particularly taken back by your determination to make that crispy coating! You know I don’t usually like fried food, but I would stand in line for this one (& I don’t stand in line, either!) You’ve really rocked this one! ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eva. That’s high praise coming from such a great cook like yourself. Yes, I was determined to get the breading/coating right but, let’s be honest, it wasn’t like any of the failures were inedible. In fact, as I mentioned in an earlier reply, it was rather bittersweet when I hit upon the correct method. I no longer had “cause” for frying more crabs. Not to worry. I used them in pasta and a curry. I doubt the dishes were any lower in calories but at least they weren’t fried. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. John, your post is like a buffet. My mouth was watering at the thought of (a) roasted garlic (b) meat of any kind cooked in panko breadcrumbs (c) tangy aoili, and (d) fresh baguette.

    And now I’m getting ready to eat my non-po’ boy, non-roasted garlic, non-panko, non-aioli sandwich… Sigh.

    Thanks for sharing this + all the great tips. Am really looking forward to the beef marrow/rice/mushroom recipe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ruth. My mouth is watering,too. I never should have let these replies go unattended for so long. I find myself wondering if I should rearrange my dinner plans for tomorrow in favor of po’ boy sandwiches. I’m doomed! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh John, if I didn’t have this damn allergy to all shellfish, I’d be all over this recipe. But I’m sure I can use your delicious aioli in many, MANY other recipes! Thank you for sharing and I’m SO GLAD that you’re back blogging. Again, my sympathies for your loss. It’s been one year since my mother passed, and I still fill the void. Blessings, Roz

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry to read that, Roz. Next to being forced to go GF — a life without pasta & bread isn’t worth living — I would find shellfish the hardest to go without. Lucky that you’re such a great cook and able to make so many other great dishes thereby minimizing the losses. I on the other hand …
      Thanks for the warm welcome, Roz, and I’m so sorry to learn of your Mother’s passing. Life is all about change. Some good, others bad but we still go on, hopefully with warm memories for comfort. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the aioli with sriracha, John. A good Po’ Boy pairs beautifully with this aioli, but I’m also going to be thinking about other times I’d like to serve it. I’m even thinking just smeared on a good panini. I’m tasting it just thinking about it. 🙂 I do know a bakery that sells the authentic New Orleans French bread, and I hadn’t previously given it a lot of thought. I will now! This is a mouthwatering recipe, certainly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Debra. I, too, have been spreading this aioli on just about everything. Well, we wouldn’t want it to go to waste, would we? I envy you that bakery. I really don’t have a good one in this neighborhood. I can get a mean piece of Naan but not a good baguette. There are, of course, a number of bakeries but that would mean driving. Now, there’s nothing wrong with driving but that poor, freshly baked baguette wouldn’t stand a chance sharing a ride with Max and me on the way home. 🙂

      Like

  14. I have never seen soft shell crabs for sale here in Tucson. Just saw them in New York and San Francisco, though – wish I could have brought them home. I have also never checked to see if they are available frozen. It’s worth trying because this po’ boy needs to eat that po’ boy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, David, I’ve never seen them frozen anywhere but at my fishmongers. Then again, I’ve never looked for them. Some here have mentioned that soft shell crabs might be available at Asian markets. I’m definitely going to check the next time Im in my favorite market. No need to rush, though. I’ve been kinda hoarding them this season. Heaven forbid there’s a power failure! Although, I would be eating very well for a day or two. 🙂

      Like

  15. I love fried soft shell crab and only had them in the Japanese restaurants. This version sound so delicious with Sriracha aioli sauce and sandwiched. Very inviting. I must also say, I am already salivating looking at the photo of Beef Bone Marrow Risotto with Porcini and Morel Mushrooms!!! 😀 )))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Fae. For quite some time, the only time I enjoyed soft shell crab was when it was prepared in a maki at a Japanese restaurant or from my favorite Thai restaurant in a curry. I’m happy to say that things certainly have changed. I do hope you’ll enjoy this week’s recipe. I sure did! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The boys in my family just love soft shell crab. It’s been great to see how you cook it because we’ve only ever experienced it Thai-style! Whenever we go out to the Thai restaurant that’s just up the road, we always order the soft shell crab. Yours looks fabulous and I must introduce them to a different version xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like I’ve found my long lost family. I, too, order soft shell crab each and every time I’m in my favorite Thai restaurant. (I order a soft shell crab maki when I’m in a Japanese restaurant, too.) If the men in your life like sandwiches, they are going to love this one, Charlie. It’s a keeper! 🙂

      Like

  17. Welcome back – I missed reading your posts. I adore soft-shell crab and always order it when I see it on a menu. I didn’t know po boys were a New Orleans speciality. This looks like a perfect meal and I wish one would materialise in front of me – it is dinnertime here in Sydney and I can’t be bothered cooking 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the warm welcome! I’m lucky to have found a place where I can buy them fresh or frozen and prepare soft shell crabs for myself. However, it’s also great to know where I can sit down and be served on those nights when I don’t want to go near the stove. 🙂

      Like

    • Welcome! I do hope you can get your hands of these crabs. They make one heckuva good sandwich and, as for the aioli, I’ve spread it on just about anything I can. Just used it tonight on a burger. 🙂
      Thanks for the visit and for taking the time to comment/

      Like

  18. Oh you make me laugh John. I think I heard you singing from here. I did wonder what kind of bread was used in Po Boys. Also a great idea to use cornstarch instead of flour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tania. The singing may have been a bit much but surely you, as good a cook as you are, know that feeling when you finally get a recipe right. It really is a form of instant gratification. “Hey, I got it!” and then, “Oh! This tastes so good!” 🙂

      Like

  19. I’ve had oyster po’ boys, shrimp po’ boys, even crawfish po’ boys…now you’re telling me I can have soft shell crab po’ boys??? Be still my heart! Darn, I wish you lived closer…I gladly pay you to prepare this delicious sandwich for me! Outstanding, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This sure tops all po-boy. We are able to get fresh soft shell crabs certain time of the year for a short period, never looked for frozen one, to be honest never knew they exist. Shall check the freezer section of my local food markets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Norma. These crabs fry up so easily and make such a good sandwich. Some have said in these comments that we might be able to find these crabs at Asian markets. I get mine at my fishmonger but plan on checking at my favorite Asian market the next time I go shopping. I hope you can find them, too. 🙂

      Like

  21. Here’s a shocker….I do like crab! But….you knew there was a but coming….I’ve had some really great stuff and some awful stuff and then of course, I get scared.
    Of course, I know I would enjoy these. This po boy looks awesome!
    I’ve never tried soft shell crabs but I think I can brave them when in season, I’m just waiting till I come to Chicago again and then I’ll just get you to show me all the good seafood 🙂

    Hope you’re well, John. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Nazneen. That’s the thing about seafood. There’s always the possibility of a bummer of a meal. I dined on a paella in Barcelona and spent the next 2 days in bed. Depending upon when you get here, soft shell crab may be harder to find — not impossible, however. Thai and Japanese restaurants very often serve it. I’ll be sure to find at least one of each restaurant. Wouldn’t want you to leave here without having at least tasting a crab — or 3. 🙂

      Like

    • Anna, you’ll think me crazy but I’d drive the hour to get some. No doubt about it. I really do love ’em. Just made another po’ boy on Saturday night. Try one and I guarantee you’ll be reconsidering that drive. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I believe you, John. And, I know exactly what you mean. I did it once when my friend took me to this restaurant. They have the most satisfying, delicious seafood platter . It’s a hike, but I drove there just to have that seafood platter the very next day. Lol. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  22. OMG! This is a heavenly Po’ Boy!!! My favorite has always been a fried shrimp Po’ Boy, but that is obviously because I’ve never had a soft shelled crab one with Sriracha sauce! This sandwich is over the top decadent!!!! It’s impossible finding young crab here, but I am going to keep my eye out for this to be a special at one of my favorite local restaurants. But in the meantime, I could always substitute the crab with shrimp. Great Po’ Boy John!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, MJ. Yeah, this is one heckuva sandwich. In fact, I made myself another one Saturday night. (Aren’t freezers a wonderful thing?) I’ve not tried one made with shrimp but that does sound good, too. Either way, the sriracha is a must. I love that stuff and have been putting it on everything lately. 🙂

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    • It really is, Nell, and easy enough to prepare GF. Rice flour is a great GF substitute and fantastic for frying, as I’m sure you already know. I’m just not so sure about GF breads, although I should find out. I’ve family members who now have gluten issues. 😉

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  23. Pingback: Fish Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa | from the Bartolini kitchens

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