Many folks say the James Beard Foundation awards are like the Oscars of the food world. So folks from across North Carolina were excited with the news that Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill was named 2011 Best Chef in the Southeast. See details in the Mouthful blog posting.
And half of the semifinalists for the southeast chef honors came from North Carolina.
Like many of the nominees, Andrea Reusing’s menus have a local focus, including seasonal, local seafood. Just check her restaurant’s site and the listings will make you hungry. She has been involved in “farm to fork” and other efforts to bring public attention to farming and fishing families and other local food providers.
Learn more about Andrea — and her new book, Cooking in the Moment — in a podcast from The State of Things on WUNC.
And, if you have soft-shell crabs from your local market or community-supported fisheries delivery, consider her recipe below.
Contributed by Katie Mosher
Recipe reprinted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing. Copyright (c) 2011. Photographs (c) 2011 by John Kernick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
Garlic and Black Pepper Soft-Shell Crabs
Vegetable oil, for frying
3 cups rice flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced garlic
½ cup fish sauce
8 large soft-shell crabs, preferably jumbo or “whale” size, dressed and cut in half crosswise
Fill a deep, heavy pot with a lid about one-third full with oil, and heat it until a deep-fat thermometer reads 375°F.
In the meantime, combine the rice flour, salt, pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl. Put the fish sauce in a small bowl. Dip each piece of crab very briefly into the fish sauce, gently shaking off excess, and then into the rice flour mix. Roll the crab over and shake off any extra flour. Set aside. Repeat this process, until all the crab halves are dredged.
When the oil reaches 375°F, gently lay the crabs, top side down, in the oil. Don’t crowd the pot—if necessary, fry them in batches—and use the lid as needed when the crabs are first added to the oil to avoid splattering. After 1 to 2 minutes, when the crabs are golden brown, turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain on clean brown paper bags and eat hot.