I think of John Besh as a home-grown Emeril. Emeril was raised in the northeast. John is a local product. His restaurant empire is starting to rival Emeril’s. He has just started his weekly cooking program on PBS. This dish is his take on a soft-shell poboy.
6 Buster Crabs or small Soft-Shell Blue Crabs, cleaned
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Buttermilk
2 cups mixed tiny Tomatoes, such as currant, grape, pear, or cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons Basic Walnut Oil Vinaigrette ( see below)
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh Basil, chopped
1 tablespoons Butter, softened
6 1-inch-thick slices French Bread, halved
1 cup Flour
1 cup yellow or white Cornmeal or Cornflour
1 teaspoon Creole Shake
3 cups Canola Oil
2 tablespoons Basic Sauce Remoulade (see below)
2 cups mixed Baby Greens or Sprouts
Leaves from 6 springs fresh Chervil
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh Dill
Season the crabs with salt and pepper. Pour the buttermilk inot a bowl, add the crabs, and set aside to marinate for a few minutes.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. While the water heats, make a tiny incision on the stem of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. Remove them immediately and cool in a bowl of ice water. Slip the skins from the tomatoes.
Put the peeled tomatoes into a bowl along with 2 tablespoons of the Walnut Oil Vinaigrette, the basil, and salt and pepper. Tossed together until the tomatoes are well cooked.
Preheat the broiler. Butter the bread slices, arrange on a baking sheet, and toast under the broiler, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside.
Mix together the flour, cornmeal, and Creole Shake in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove the crabs from the buttermilk and dredge in the seasoned flour. Fry the crabs, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 6-7 minutes. Remove crabs from skillet and drain on paper towels.
Place a slice of toasted bread on each of 6 plates (or arrange on a platter). Spoon marinated tomatoes onto the bread slices, then pile the fried crabs on the tomatoes. Dollop a teaspoon of Sauce Remoulade on each crab.
Toss the baby greens with the two remaining 2 tablespoons Walnut Oil Vinaigrette in the same bowl used for the tomatoes. Place a handfull of greens on each crab, then scatter chervil and dillo leaves and top with a piece of toast.
Basic Walnut Oil Vinaigrette Makes 1 1/4 cups
1/4 cup Sherry Vinager (preferably aged)
2 pinches Sugar
1/2 cup Walnut Oil
1/2 cup Canola Oil
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Mix together. You may need to remix before serving.
Basic Sauce Remoulade
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons prepared Horseradish
2 tabloespoons chopped fresh Parsley
1 Shallot, minced
1 clove Garlic
1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon sweet Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl and stir well, then add salt. Transfer the sauce to a container with a cover and refrigerate.
Creole Cajun Chef’s Creole Shake
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