It’s been an interesting summer. Difficult in many ways, though like many of you I’m struggling to articulate my feelings as we navigate the layers of grief, stress, and anxiety during this pandemic. Work is keeping me afloat, and that’s good enough for me right now. In between the emails and zoom calls, I am simply trying to make space to cook food that brings me joy. This was one of those meals. It reminded me of my vacation to Jamaica ten years ago, and although we can’t travel now we can certainly allow the food to transport us there! Escovitch fish is a dish traditionally prepared with fried snapper, marinated with a medley of spicy pickled veggies. The scotch bonnet pepper-laced concoction is so good that it’s impossible not to imagine other iterations – as I did for the “Escovitch Fried Chicken” recipe in The Kitchenista Diaries Vol. 1 ebook. In that same collection, I also shared my recipe for a soft-shell crab sandwich, which is a summer classic in the DMV region. Today, it crossed my mind that the crispy fried crabs would make a perfect bed for escovitch sauce, much like fried snapper. That’s usually how my mind works. A jumble of ideas, re-imagined recipes, and culinary intrigue.
Soft-shell crabs seemed a bit strange the first time I heard of them. Yes, you can really eat the shell! They’re no different than blue crabs with hard shells, they are just harvested after they have shed their old exoskeleton, while still soft. You get a tiny bit of crunch, in a pleasant way, often enhanced by breading and frying the whole crabs. When you buy them live, they’ll need to be prepped by removing the face, gills and apron – but it’s an easy task, or you can ask the fishmonger to do this for you. The crabs that came today in my grocery order were rather small, so adjust the cook-time based on what you have.