The only thing he doesn't like is the peeling and the cracking. He loves crab cakes (a trait he shares with Adam), but you're not going to see him going at whole crabs with mallets and nutcrackers. He loves shrimp scampi and shrimp cocktail, but he's not so keen on "peel 'n' eat" shrimp. He loves lobster ravioli and shrimp with lobster sauce at Chinese restaurants, but you won't see him dismember a whole lobster (although he will eat lobster tails in the case where the meat can easily be popped out). He doesn't like to work for his dinner.
I always thought he would enjoy soft shell crabs because of this. He could have a whole crab, but not have to work at getting the meat out. It seemsed like a perfect solution.
My problem is that I often have trouble finding them in my neighborhood. They have a short season and not all seafood purveyors stock them regularly. Occasionally I see them already prepared, which takes the fun out of cooking with them and experiments with recipes.
I lucked out eventually. I found soft shell crabs at the seafood counter at Stew Leonards yesterday. I eagerly approached the counter, hoping to snag some. Then I noticed something.
The crabs were still alive and crawling around their little niche in the ice.
Have I mentioned that as much as my husband loves crustaceans, I fear them? Yep. They scare me. They're ugly, bug-like beasts (insects are crustaceans too after all). They have sharp, evil claws. Ever since I was a child I never wanted to be too close to a crab. I remember crabbing with my grandparents in Cape Cod when I was younger. Whenever I caught a crab, I would have someone else pull it up because I was terrified of doing it myself.
I vividly remember a dream I had when I was 5 where I dreamed I was lying in bed and crabs were crawling all over the place. I don't like crabs.
(To be fair, I also vividly remember a dream I had where Dracula hovered threateningly over my bed, but "Dracula" was actually Morgan Freeman in his "Electric Company" vampire costume. As a grownup, I don't seem to fear Morgan Freeman.)
As I stood there and stared in horror at the display case the clerk behind the counter asked if I needed help.
"These crabs are still alive," I exclaimed.
"Of course they are. They are supposed to be," she said.
"How do I cook them?" was all I could ask.
She talked about coating them in flour and frying them in some butter and garlic.
"No," I protested. "How do I kill them? Am I supposed to kill them?"
"I'll clean them for you," she reassured me. I later learned on the internet while looking for more recipe suggestions that "clean" means removing their heads. I was glad I didn't have to do that, but I also hoped that while I was shopping on my lunch hour that they would still be reasonably fresh by the time I was ready to make dinner that evening. They didn't stink when I got them home, so I figured I was safe.
Ugly beasts. See the wineglass stem off to the right? I needed alcohol to deal with these things.
I dredged them in flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, and a little paprika. Then into a pan with some butter, olive oil, and garlic.
They got some squirts of lemon juice and were piled onto a a bed of lettuce. I really liked the coating I made. It was simple, but perfect. I managed to get the edges a little crispy.
Hubby was quite happy with them.
So what did I eat? I managed to actually prepare the scary food, but then there is the other part of my dislike of crustaceans. I don't like the taste. I had to make myself something different.
I trotted out the grill pan and grilled some red peppers.
Then some onions.
Then, the best part of all, some chorizo.
I don't do much grilling as you all know. My grill pan is the only way I can get a grilled taste on my food. I don't like using it because it smokes up the kitchen so badly. I have to turn the noisy vent fan to full blast and open all of the windows.
I piled it all on a ciabatta roll with machego cheese.
I must say this was the best sandwich I've had in quite some time. It was really really REALLY good. There are few things better than grilled spicy sausage and when you combine it with a really good cheese, magic happens. I am normally quite reserved and ladylike with my speech, but this sandwich turned me into a regular Michelle. "(Expletive) Me! This sandwich is so (Expletive) good. This is such a (expletive) good sandwich!" Perhaps I overdid the enthusiasm? Maybe it was just all that wine I drank to combat the crab fear.