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Pan-Fried Soft-Shell Crab with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Pickled Ramps, and Lemon Puree

Serve up a fresh, seasonal menu featuring soft-shell crabs and ramps, sure signs of spring, with this recipe from Momofuku chef David Chang.

Photography: Rob Tannenbaum

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 7136


For the Pickled Ramps

  • 2 pounds ramps, cleaned, trimmed, white and green parts separated
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon schichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder; optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kochukaru (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns (optional)

For the Potatoes

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (quartered if large)
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

For the Crabs

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 to 4 slices lemon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon Puree, for serving


  1. Make the ramps: Separate white and green parts of ramps, reserving green parts for potatoes. Place white parts of ramps in container and set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan, mix together hot water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and schichimi togarashi, kochukaru, and white peppercorns, if using; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour cooled mixture over ramps and cover; transfer to refrigerator for at least 3 days and up to 1 month. Drain before using.

  3. Make the potatoes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  4. Place potatoes, garlic, and thyme in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover; generously season with salt. Place over medium-high heat and simmer just until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet to cool completely.

  5. Cut cooled potatoes lengthwise on the bias. Heat grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and place potatoes cut-side down in skillet. Transfer to oven and cook until a nice brown crust appears, about 20 minutes. Return to stove over medium-high heat and add butter; cook basting with oil and butter mixture. Add reserved greens from ramps to skillet and season with salt; toss to combine and remove from heat.

  6. Make the crabs: Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season crabs with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook until red and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn crabs and add garlic, thyme, lemon slices, if using, and butter. Cook, basting with butter, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

  7. Spread 1 tablespoon lemon puree on each of 4 plates. Top with potatoes and crab; garnish with pickled ramps and serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

When buying soft-shell crabs, select crabs that are alive with shells that are very soft.

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