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Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs with Pistou and Soft Fried Eggs

Prepare a marvelous spring meal with this recipe for ale-battered soft-shell crab, pea-shoot pistou, and sauteed ramps from chef Sean Brock.

  • Servings: 4

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, April 2011


  • 2 tablespoons benne seeds, plus more for garnish
  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles ale-style beer
  • 3 cups White Lily self-rising flour
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 small morels, cleaned
  • 4 ramps, trimmed and cleaned
  • 1/2 pound shelled English peas
  • 1/3 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pistou
  • 4 fresh pea shoots, for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together benne seeds, beer, and flour until well combined; season with a pinch of salt. Transfer batter to refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add morels and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add ramps, peas, and vegetable stock; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until ramps are wilted and peas are bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, fill a large Dutch oven 5 inches high with canola oil. Heat oil over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

  4. Remove batter from refrigerator and dredge each crab in batter, shaking off excess. Transfer crabs to hot oil and cover Dutch oven with a splatter guard (crabs will sizzle and pop while cooking). Cook, turning once, until crabs are golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer crabs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

  5. Place a tablespoon of butter in each of 2 medium nonstick skillets; heat skillets over medium heat until butter is frothy. Reduce heat to low and crack an egg into each skillet; cook, basting whites with butter using a spoon, until whites are set but yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper. Remove eggs from skillets and repeat process with remaining 2 eggs.

  6. Divide pistou evenly among 4 serving plates. Place a crab on each plate and top each with an egg. Divide morels, ramps, and peas evenly among plates; garnish each with a pea shoot and benne seeds. Serve immediately.

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