I was inspired to make this dinner after reading this interview of Michael Anthony, chef of Gramercy Tavern. He says that his last meal would consist of soft shell crabs and ramps. I decided to up Chef Anthony a notch by including some roasted asparagus on the plate. You can't get much more seasonal than this dish, and I was somewhat annoyed by it's success, knowing that it would likely be next year before I have a chance to make it again.
This marked the first time I have ever cooked soft-shell crabs, and I was impressed with how easy they were to make and how well they turned out. Don't be intimidated by the thought of throwing live crabs into hot oil. My technique was from David Pasternack's The Young Man & The Sea. While heating up a large skillet filled with about a half cup of olive oil, I mixed together Wondra flour, corn starch and salt and pepper, and set aside another small bowl filled with milk. I dipped the crabs in the milk, then in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. The crabs then went into the skillet, about 3 minutes per side. After a sprinkling of sea salt, they were ready to eat.