Contains: Seafood (shellfish), some nightshade in the seasoning. Is: Quick and easy, gluten-free, Whole30, paleo, keto.
You can learn more about soft-shelled crabs in a future post (for another online food challenge — which I will link to on the 21st), but since I’ll discuss them there… But, what about ramps?
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are native to eastern North America, and as the genus name, Allium, indicates, they are in the onion family. They have a unique but onion-related taste of their own. While not as stringent as some onions, there is a distinct “earthy” taste. They are a very seasonal, and non-hardy, vegetable.
Occasionally in north east or Appalachian-eastwards America, you will find ramps in the supermarket, mid to late spring. They are VERY seasonal!
Many people go out and forage for ramps – if you do, they are of limited population now. DO NOT HARVEST ANYTHING CLOSE TO A QUARTER OF THEM! If possible, leave much of the roots and bulbs behind, for future seasons of rejuvenation and growth.
Ramps like moist, semi-shaded soils. If you have enough suitable property, you could probably wild-culture them. (I don’t.)
Usually, your fishmonger will offer to clean your soft shelled crabs, which means removing some (still edible) internal organs. Unless they are already in the display case with said items removed.
You need to eat the crabs preferably in 24 hours, if the organs have been removed, or if said crab is no longer remotely alive. I admit for this crab, I took him (her?) home, and cooked it without any such activity.
Prep Time: 5 minutes.
Cook Time: 6-8 minutes.
Rest Time: Not necessary.
Serves: 1 crab apiece.
Leftovers: I guess so… Haven’t had any to experiment with!
Appetizer: Soft Shelled Crab & Ramps, with Za’atar Seasoning
INGREDIENTS: (per crab)
- 2 teaspoons healthy cooking oil (I go for avocado or grapeseed oil). Butter would be another option.
- 1 soft shell crab (per person).
- 2-3 ramps. Chop the bulb small, the stem a little less small, and the leaf into halves or thirds. You can substitute with a medium-large shallot, chopped..
- 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar seasoning.
- Garnish: 1 or 2 lemon wedges.
Set the oil into a hot skillet (medium to medium high heat). When a drop of water sizzles, add the soft shelled crab, bottom down. Atop, sprinkle half the za’atar.
After 3-4 minutes, flip the crab, add the rest of the za’atar, and add the chopped ramps, scattering them in the skillet. Cover. Allow to cook for about 2 more minutes.
Plate, and serve immediately, adding any lemon wedges or slices desired.