While I play the role of a tough, chic, urban Brooklynite pretty well, my greatest character is the one that comes most natural – a Southern gal. Growing up in the South is a double-edged sword. I may be forever taunted when my accent comes spilling out (esp. after a few cocktails) and I may get ribbing for things like country hicks, Hee-Haw (no I am not a farmer’s daughter), pickled pigs feet or chitlins but I would never exchange these at the expense of losing summer nights chasing fireflies, hay rides, cruising main street, southern high school football and comfort food like only the South provides.
I just spent the last 4 days on the beach in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. I grew up on the Carolina beaches and nothing says Summer or returning to one’s roots more to me than this area. Those beaches hold the memories of all my childhood summer vacations – my first kiss, biker short outfits, big hair, Panama Jack sun tan oil (no SPF) and Daisy Duke shorts.
These days I am more interested in all the yummy offerings at the beach that only the South delivers – spoon bread, sweet tea, buttery grits, homemade biscuits and jam, peaches, boiled peanuts and fresh seafood. With the threat of losing our oceans to the oil spill, I was damn determined to eat every morsel of seafood I could get my hands on this weekend! What better time to be there than soft shell crab season!
Bestest Soft Shell Crab
1/2 Cup Super Fine Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp Butter or 2
4 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Sweet Soya Sauce
4 Soft Shell Crab, cleaned
Wash crabs and pat dry with paper towel. Combine flour, panko and pecans in a bowl. Lightly coat each crab in the dry mix and place on a platter. Fine chop the garlic & jalapeno and place in a saute pan big enough to hold all the crabs. Add the butter and oil and saute until the garlic is translucent. Add the crab and let saute roughly 2 minutes on each side. When both sides are browned, add the sweet soya to the pan and coat the crab in the pan sauce.
Pour the crab and sauce onto a serving platter. Dig in.
My uber- health conscious friend Dawn is the Salad Queen and she made the most flavorful and scrumptuous salad to accompany the crabs.
Chop (bite size pieces) cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion and yellow bell pepper in a bowl. Add a fine chopped jalapeno and 2 cloves of fresh garlic, fine chopped. Add a can of well rinsed black beans. Toss ingredients. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the salad. In a bowl combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice and a splash of soy sauce. Whisk with fork to combine and pour over the salad. Toss. Add salt & pepper to taste. Perfect Summer Salad.
Final finishing touch to the menu – GRITS of course! However, these are not your grammas grits girls. Make grits as usual, yeah with lots of butter. Rather than add a ton of salt to bring up the flavor, chop in about 4 or 5 slices of crunchy bacon or pancetta. Add 1/2 cup of caramelized red onion (add a splash of Kentucky Bourbon for the last 5 minutes) to the grits and if you are really ready to knock socks off – pour in a good tablespoon of real maple syrup. Best damn grits “that” side of the Mason Dixon.
After a meal like that, I recommend a bit of this…
What is your favorite Southern (culinary) delight?