FRIED SOFT-SHELL CRABS WITH SPICY SALAD
Adapted from Blue Pepper, Amsterdam
4- to 5-ounce (jumbo) soft-shell crabs
Salt and crushed red pepper
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup unsweetened finely ground coconut
1 quart mild frying oil such as safflower
1 cup each diced mango, pineapple, and cucumber
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
2 fresh Thai chilis, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoons finely ground peanuts
1/4 cup salad oil
Salt if necessary
Thin rice noodles, soaked, drained, and fried for serving
Tamarind paste for garnish
1. Dry the crabs well using paper towels and dust with the salt and red pepper.
2. Whisk the water and rice flour together and add the crabs. One at a time add to a bowl where the panko and coconut are mixed together and turn several times for the crumbs to stick. Transfer to a rack to dry for half an hour before frying.
3. For the salad, combine all ingredients and toss together. Taste for salt and add a little if necessary. Set aside refrigerated.
4. To fry the crabs, heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees. Fry the crabs one or two at a time until deep golden and drain on paper towels.
5. To serve, stripe the diameter of each plate with tamarind and arrange a crab on the fried rice noodles on one side and the salad on the other.