Ingredients for Chili Sauce
- 1/3 cup tamarind pulp, or 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup smoky hot sauce of the chipotle variety
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brine from Pickled Red Onions (page 258)
- 11/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet habanero hot sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 quarts canola oil, for frying
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces cold beer
- 4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned Chile oil
- 6 strawberries
If there’s a list of things that people get most excited about when they first come into season, soft-shell crabs would definitely be on it. They’re just as sweet and delicious as hard-shell crabs, but you can actually eat the shells (which means a lot less work to get to all that crabby goodness). I like dredging them in a really light tempura batter and frying them, so they’re crispy but not smothered in breading. Then you just dunk the whole thing in sauce and get messy with it.
Directions for Chili Sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind, ketchup, hot sauce, fish sauce, rice wine, pickle liquid, soy sauce, sesame oil, habanero sauce, garlic, and ginger. Add 2 tablespoons water. In a medium saucepot over medium-high heat, combine the chile sauce mixture, stock, and butter. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. By heating the sauce you better incorporate the butter without the risk of ingredients separating. Keep warm while the crab fries.
Heat the oil in a large pot to 375°F.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and flour. Gently mix in the beer with a fork, being careful not to over-mix so the beer stays carbonated.
Split the crabs down the center so that the two sets of legs are separate. Dunk the crabs in the batter and carefully add it to the oi, working in batches so you don’t crowd the pot. Fry for 2 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Gently agitate so the crab fries evenly.
Serve the crab drizzled with chile oil, garnished with strawberries, and the chile sauce alongside.