Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs w/ Yuzu Kosho

Crab is my favorite food group so I get very excited when little soft-shell crabs come in season. Though soft-shells are available as early as April and as late as October, the peak season is now through July. It’s now they crawl out of their muddy hibernation to shed their hard shell and grow a new one. And it’s now that they’re the best to eat. Outside of this “zone” you get soft-shells that are a bit more chewy than you want. Not recommended unless chewing on leather straps is your thing.

There’s so many things you could do with soft-shell crabs, they’re great in sandwiches, in sushi rolls, and they’re amazing simply pan-fried with garlic, parley and lemon. Last year, I posted a recipe for soft-shells with pea shoots and a orange-sesame emulsion but this time I wanted something with a little bit more of a kick, so my new favorite condiment came to the rescue.

Yuzu kosho is a spicy condiment made from ground yuzu peel with green chili peppers and salt and can be found in Japanese grocery stores. You NEED a jar of it in your refrigerator at all times. When you mix it with garlic, ginger, cilantro, and olive oil you obtain a bold tasting relish that’s amazing with crispy chicken, shrimp and of course… crab.

I served that crispy-spicy goodness with an Israeli couscous salad with marinated mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. That’s some good eats, my friends.

  • Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs w/ Yuzu Kosho Relish

  • Serves 4
    • For the crispy soft-shell crabs:
    • 8 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
    • 1 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 cup flour
    • salt and pepper
    • canola oil for pan-frying
    • For the yuzu kosho relish:
    • 1 tablespoon yuzu kosho
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon ginger
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender part only, chopped
    • 1/4 lemon, grated zest only
    • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    • 1 scallion, chopped
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • For the Israeli couscous salad
    • 2 cups Israeli couscous, cooked
    • 1 cup marinated mushrooms
    • 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
    • spinach
    • lemon juice
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • For the crispy soft-shell crabs:
    • To clean soft-shell crabs you need to cut away three distinct parts, the lungs, the apron and the head section. Everything else is edible.  You can ask your fishmonger to do this for you.
    • Soak the soft-shell crabs in the milk for 30 mins. Meanwhile, place the flour on a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and add an inch-of oil. You want the temperature of the oil to be between 350’F and 375’F.
    • Working in batches, dip the soft-shell crab in flour and coat well. Pan-fry on both sides until golden and crispy. About 3 minutes per side.
    • For the yuzu kosho relish:
    • Combine the yuzu kosho, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lemon zest, cilantro, scallion and olive oil and mix well. Set aside.
    • For the Israeli couscous salad:
    • Combine the Israeli couscous with the marinated mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with the crispy soft-shell crabs and the yuzu kosho relish.
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  • jenjenk

    I heart Yuzu kosho AND soft shelled crabs!!!  Good God, man!!  that pairing looks amazing. I need to have “Insta-vision” so I can grab it through my monitor!!

  • Bee

    Love soft shell crab, but I can only get the frozen ones here. :(

    I MUST MUST taste your 24-course tasting menu that you *promised* me from two years ago. 😉

  • Anonymous

    I’m still working on my teleportation booth. You’re asking a bit much with your “insta-vision”. :)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Bee, Marc is supposed to collaborate on that dinner. 12 courses each. Remember? :) 

  • Michaelc

    Greetings from Bangkok Zenchef, I really look forward to seeing your posts, and this one looks pretty fine. Marc, just a thought, my Japanese friends marinate their crispy karaage things in a mixture of the usual japanese suspects, but always seem to fry with potato starch. I know you are up on your Japanese cuisine, but the crab seems a prefect verhicle for it. 
    Anyway saturaday morning here, and off to see if I can find some poor little crabs and yuzu kosho. Yr relish sounds superb Will toast you if I do.

  • Alejandra Ramos

    Yuzu kosho sounds incredible!! I need to get this. I”m a soft-shell crab fanatic. When they’re in season, I eat them at least once a week. More often twice a week. Pure heaven!

  • elle marie

    This is divine! I grew up on eating blue crabs, here in Japan though, they are the dungeness crab I believe? This looks impressive.

  • Peter Minaki

    Zen, you’ve done it again, simple but gorgeous soft-shell crab! How do the French say it…”le crispy”?

  • Pierre

    Oh Dear GOD!!!
    (Bow down to the new kitchen God I just found on my blog surfing)
    Amazing aaaaaaamazing!!!

  • Anonymous

    Le croustillant? :) 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Soft-shells are basically blue crabs but I think it depends of their provenance. Dungeness are the hard shells ones. 

  • Anonymous

    Now it’s the time!! You need to get a jar of yuzu kosho. You NEEEED!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Michael. Let me know how it goes. 

  • Anonymous

    Ah! Thanks.. and welcome!

  • Frank A Fariello Jr

    OMG, this looks amazing. I love soft shell crabs and that relish… I’m speechless. 

  • Tony & Kay Ecker

    The soft shell crabs look absolutely amazing!  I’ve never made it at home, it looks too hard;o)  I also love yuzu-kosho!  Your photos are beautiful too.


  • Erin

    This looks amazing!!  My husband would think he died and gone to heaven if I would make this for him.  Wish I could find soft shell crab in Iowa :(

  • Dewi

    Love it! Bookmark it! Definitely will make it too! Thanks chef.

  • Anonymous

    When the soft shell crab are in season, I just can’t stop! Yours look awesome, very nice combination of flavours!! :)

  • Colloquial Cook

    Baaaaaaah! Mâcher les crabes avec leurs petits yeux cruels! Faut pas avoir de coeur! I’d rather chew on leather straps (which don’t actually look at you while you’re eating them). [ça fait un peu Schtroumph grognon, aujourd’hui, hein – sorry about that]

  • Anonymous

    Mais nooon.. il faut leur couper les yeux avant de les frire. Comme ca ils ne peuvent pas voir que tu vas les manger. 

  • Jun

    I love crunchy fried food. The soft shell crabs are beautifully fried. Since the crabs itself are all about texture, it is best to serve with out of the world sauce (or relish). Love the pics! 

  • Eugene @ Food and Scent

    That crab is PERFECT! That’s how crispy soft shell crabs should look like, and not oily or mutilated like how it’s so often sold. Kudos.

  • Su-yin

    That second photo of the two soft shell crabs – that’s what I would call perfection. I’m a huge fan of soft shell crabs as I don’t need to peel them (I’m lazy!). You should so move to London.. and be my neighbour. 😉

  • noobcook

    This is one of the most beautiful soft shell crab dish I have seen. and trust me, I have seen many!! hehe

  • Anonymous

    must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are passionate about your writing. If only I had your writing ability I look forward to more updates 
    Business Loan

  • http://mytastyhandbook Adelina

    I have been hearing more and more about yuzu and need to get me some. Your creation is too look and should come with a warning “do not stare at the screen too long, you might start salivating :)”

  • Chez Us – Denise

    Long over due post – how could you keep me hungry for so long……

    Lovely post.  Lovely dish.  Big fan of soft shelled crabs, have yet to try my hand at making them.  I have to agree about Yuzu Kosho – everyone should grab a jar.  It has become a staple in our house.  

  • Digital Printing

    Soft shell crabs are delicious and affordable when they are in season. They are fried to a light crisp,I’m the queen of soft shell crabs and look forward to eating them every summer.

  • Michaelc

    At last found yuzu koshu in Sydney. 
    Soft shell crabs are all fro/zen here in Bangkok so not wanting to be eating your leather straps, substituted the lovely local blue swimmer crabs, young and sweet, cleaned and quartered. 
    Interestingly the little flippers were crunchy and edible, as were some other parts of the shell. Absolutely delicious!! That yuzu kosho is a revelation. Thankyou for a great recipe, and for providing hours of pleasure reading your food porn.Let me know if you ever come to Bangkok,Michael

  • Jeremy Golden

    Hey!  Where did you go?  I love your blog; it inspires me to be passionate about the food i cook every time I read it!  I hope you’re doing well, and that you re-enter the battlefield soon!

  • Leejin0923

    wow, it’s really nice,

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the kind words, Jeremy. I’ve been busy but I’m re-entering the battlefield ‘as we speak’. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Michael!! Much appreciated!

  • Yvonne Peterman

    I am impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I come across a blog that is both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • Anonymous

    And my mouth it watering. Yum. 

  • Jon Van Dalen

    I finally found yuzu juice at a korean supermarket here yesterday, but fresh yuzu fruit seems impossible. Haven’t seen that condiment you mention, sounds intriguing! Thanks for another interesting post.

  • Olivia Edward

    Carefully place crabs into the deep-fryer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Carefully turn over, and cook until golden on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve as soon as they are cool enough to eat. You can eat the whole crab.