Recipe: Soft Shell Crab Over Oven-Roasted Vegetables with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Recipes became mere suggestions, teasing me to make them my own. Taunting me. Guidelines, not contracts. Soulful encounters that yielded instant gratification! Jazz cooking. Play the form, and then veer wildly into the abyss. Combining equal parts technique, wants, needs, accidents, budget, etc, my improvisational skills developed. Grooving in the kitchen is parallel to grooving on a bandstand. I could relate. A lifelong infatuation with food and music, it ís so simple, became one and the same. A culmination of a body of work spanning decades. These recipes satisfy me. Others too, evidently, as Iíve been able to parlay them into a respectable career. Follow them exactly, or take the merest snippet and adapt it to your own particular ambition. See them for what they are, a collection of ideas meant to provoke thought and pleasure. Enjoy.

softshellOne of the intriguing recipes contained within the cookbook is the deciding dish for the 2001 Garlic Chef Competition, mystery ingredient in this round was soft shell crab:

Oven Roasted Vegetables

1 ea, assorted vegetables for roasting, cut into bite size portions such as:
Broccoli, Red Onion, Leeks, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Whole Garlic Head (sliced 1 inch below the tail), Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place all ingredients (except garlic) in a bowl and toss with olive oil & salt & pepper.
3. Oil the whole cut garlic and place cut side down on sheet pan.
4. Add other vegs to sheet pan and bake turning occasionally aprox 30-45 min.
Note: do not turn the garlic.

Spicy Garlic Sauce

2 TBS Chopped Garlic
1 TBS Chopped Shallots
LG Pinch Dried Red Chili Flakes
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 OZ Olive Oil
4 OZ Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
2 TBS Chopped Parsley
8 OZ Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. In a heavy saucepan over high heat add olive oil and brown garlic to light golden.
2. Sweat shallots to translucent (aprox 30 seconds).
3. Add chili flakes.
4. Deglaze with lemon juice.
5. Reduce
6. Add Noilly Prat Vermouth and reduce by 50 %.
7. Add heavy cream.
8. Reduce until bubbles become larger and fewer (Approx 3-5 mins).
9. Salt & Pepper
10. Pure and add Parsley
11. Adjust seasonings if necessary, keep warm.

Soft Shells

4 Soft Shell Crabs, cleaned of lungs, tail and eyes.
Seasoned Flour
4 OZ Clarified Butter
4-6 OZ Dry White Wine
Salt & Peppr to taste1. Heat sauté pan with 1 oz clarified butter per soft shell.

2. Dredge soft shells in seasoned flour.
3. Place top down in sauté pan and brown approx 3 mins.
4. Salt & Pepper
5. Turn soft shells and brown on bottom side approx 2 mins.
6. Add white wine and reserve in oven with roasted vegs.


Arrange roasted vegs on plate with browned garlic head off to one side. Lean soft shell up against whole garlic head. Sauce over the crab and around the vegs.


Recipe can be scaled up in direct proportion