Serve up a fresh, seasonal menu featuring soft-shell crabs and ramps, sure signs of spring, with this recipe from Momofuku chef David Chang.
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.
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.
Make the potatoes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
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.
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.
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.
Spread 1 tablespoon lemon puree on each of 4 plates. Top with potatoes and crab; garnish with pickled ramps and serve immediately.
When buying soft-shell crabs, select crabs that are alive with shells that are very soft.