Panko-Dusted Soft Shell Crabs with Spicy Mayonnaise Drizzle

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 36 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cook: 16 min
  • Yield: 4 appetizer servings or 2 main course servings
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1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade

2 tablespoons ground chili paste (recommended: Sambal Oelek)

1 teaspoon hot pepper sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons Essence, plus more for garnishing

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

4 large soft shell crabs, cleaned

2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnishing


  1. In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, chili paste, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. Set aside while you prepare the crabs.
  2. Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven or a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
  3. Combine the flour and half of the Essence in a shallow bowl. Stir to blend well. In another shallow bowl whisk the eggs and milk together with the remaining Essence. Place the panko in a third shallow bowl.
  4. Dredge each crab first in the flour, shaking to remove any excess, then in the egg wash, and finally in the panko. Set aside on a plate while you prepare the remaining crabs.
  5. When the oil has reached the desired temperature, fry the crabs, 1 at a time, until golden brown and crispy on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain while you fry the remaining crabs.
  6. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the Spicy Mayonnaise around the perimeter of each of 4 dinner plates and top each plate with a crab. Garnish with the scallions and a little extra Essence around the edge of the plate. Serve immediately.