Soft shell crab with cornmeal and tarragon

The first time I had soft shell crab was at Chez Panisse on my birthday years ago. Now every time August comes around, I crave these delicious critters. Paul cooked these for my birthday this year and they were the best I've ever had.

In a wide shallow bowl, lightly beat two eggs with 1 cup buttermilk. On a plate mix 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour (gluten free, in my case), 2 Tbs chopped tarragon, a pinch of cayenne, salt and ground pepper. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron pan. Coat 8 cleaned crabs with the egg/buttermilk, then lightly dredge in the cornmeal/flour mixture. When oil is hot, but not smoking, place the crabs in the pan. Cook for about a minute. Then lightly shake the pan. Cook another 3 minutes. Flip crabs and cook another 3-4 minutes until crispy brown.

We served these with corn, a green bean and tomato salad, arugula, and a wedge of lemon. A perfect summer birthday meal!

(I think these would be so tasty on sandwich. Next time, we'll try them that way.)

Serves 4 as a main course, or 8 as an appetizer

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