Sautéed soft-shell crabs with capers and parsley in lemon-butter sauce.

Sautéed soft-shell crabs with capers and parsley in lemon-butter sauce. Credit: Marge Perry

SOFT-SHELL CRABS WITH LEMON-BUTTER SAUCE

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

4 medium soft-shell crabs, cleaned

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons drained capers

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper in a bowl. Dredge the crabs in the flour mixture, lightly coating both sides.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the crabs and cook until crisp on the outsides and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving platter.

3. Reduce the heat under the skillet to low, add the butter and swirl until melted. Stir in the lemon juice, capers and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook 30 seconds. Spoon the mixture over the crabs and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 226 calories, 21 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 14 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 656 mg sodium

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GRILLED SOFT-SHELL CRAB TACOS

1/2 avocado, chopped in 1/2-inch cubes

2 plum tomatoes, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

4 medium soft-shell crabs, cleaned

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

4 (16-inch) corn tortillas

1. Lightly oil the grill grate. Prepare the grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat (350 to 400 degrees).

2. Combine the avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a bowl.

3. Brush the crabs with the oil, season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin and chili powder and place on the grill. Grill until they are well-marked on the undersides and easily release from the grill surface, about 4 minutes; repeat on the other side.

4. Place the tortillas on the grill and cook about 1 minute on each side until lightly charred and pliable.

5. Place a crab on one half of each tortilla; top with the avocado mixture, fold closed and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 202 calories, 22 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 627 mg sodium

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SOFT-SHELL CRABS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium soft-shell crabs, cleaned

1. Combine the vinegar, Dijon and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. In a slow steady stream, whisk in 3 tablespoons of the oil until the mixture looks creamy. Stir in the basil and set aside.

2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper on a plate. Dredge the crabs in the flour mixture, lightly coating both sides.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the crabs and cook until crisp on the outsides and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Serve drizzled with the vinaigrette. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 266 calories, 20 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 18 g saturated fat, 636 mg sodium

TIP: These recipes make appetizer portions, but may be doubled to serve as dinner.