soft shell crab; tomato, pericón; squash, shishito, mint

Once in a great while, and only with certain meals, do I think it would be nice to have larger plates, although I really don’t want to go down that road. As I was arranging this one however, even I was taken aback a bit by how busy – and maximal – this entrée looked, and, yes, a bigger plate, maybe an oval plate, would have been nice. Then I pulled everything back a bit toward the edges of the plates, making room for a little white space, and it looked better. Also, the individual elements were not really that complex, and everything really made much more sense once we had tasted it.

It was delicious, and with a bit of good bread, at the end we were also able to enjoy the combination of sauces, which really was complex, that had gathered in the center of the plates.

I had been very excited to be able to come home with 4 live larger than usual local blue crabs from Pura Vida in the Union Square Greenmarket that day, especially since Paul, my fish seller, had told me these would be the last of the season. There’s a short video of one of our lively dinner guests that evening on this tweet, which was taken while I was still at the market.

  • four 5 or 6-ounce soft-shell blue crabs (callinectes sapidus) from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, cleaned as described in Marylander Stacey Williamson’s charming short video (it’s pretty much a cinch to do), rinsed in running water and dried very thoroughly (so they don’t ‘steam’, meaning to encourage crispness), since I had decided not to use a batter of any kind, brought to room temperature in the meantime, sautéed on both sides (bottom first, but in the end served with that side down) over a medium-high flame in a quarter inch of olive oil inside a 13-inch well-seasoned cast iron pan (for about 3  or 4 minutes altogether) until their texture goes from soft to taut, when they are ready to be removed and arranged on the 2 plates, sprinkled with local sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, drizzled with juice of a California organic lemon from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, and garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • one large yellow heirloom tomato from Norwich Meadows Farm and 3 green (unripe) cherry tomatoes from    Alewife Farm, all halved, seasoned with salt and black pepper and sprinkled with pericón (Mexican tarragon) from Quarton Farm, sautéed on both sides, then arranged on the plates, garnished with more of the herb and stuck with a bit of its tiny stemmed flowers
  • two 7-ounce yellow summer squash from Stokes Farm, washed and dried, sliced thickly on a slight diagonal, sautéed in a heavy, tin-lined copper skillet with a little olive oil (in which one garlic scape from Phillips Farms had first been heated until softened) until the squash had begun to brown, adding thin slices of shishito peppers from Alewife Farm, seeds and pith removed (although that would have removed most of whatever heat they had, which I think we would instead have welcomed) added, and briefly stirred, then mixed with torn leaves of spearmint, the gift of a friend, removed to the plates, drizzled with a little olive oil and a bit more mint scattered on top
  • a couple small slices from a loaf of whole wheat (‘Redeemer wheat’) bread that I had shared that afternoon at the Greenmarket with another fan of Lost Bread Co. (neither of us really needed a full loaf that day, so we  Leo offered to split one between us)
  • the wine was a Spanish (Catalonoia/Empordà) white, Espelt 2017 Empordà Garnatxa Blanca, from Chambers Street Wines
  • the music was the album, ‘Gli impresari’, orchestral works by Haydn “originally conceived as theatre music, before their metamorphosis into symphonies”, which is Volume 7 from the project, ‘Haydn 2032’, all the works performed by Giovanni Antonini conducting the Basel Chamber Orchestra