Recipes: 'The Young Man and The Sea' These "slightly dressier" recipes may send you "scampering to the nearest gourmet store for juniper berries and arból chiles," warns T. Susan Chang. Try the Trout Almost Amandine with Pistachios or the Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Ramps.
NPR logo Recipes: 'The Young Man and The Sea'

Recipes: 'The Young Man and The Sea'

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Get more recommendations from T. Susan Chang.

These recipes appear in The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca by David Pasternack and Ed Levine, Artisan, 2007.

Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Ramps

Serves 4


I'm very particular whom I buy my soft-shell crabs from, and you should be, too. I get mine from Tommy Crab. When you buy soft-shell crabs they shouldn't be moving around. Their backs should feel soft, like a baby's bottom. I like soft-shells fried, as they are here, or grilled. When I've sautéed them, too often they've come out oily.


8 medium or 10 small young ramps

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups Wondra

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

8 small to medium soft-shell crabs,

cleaned by your fishmonger

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Sherry Vinaigrette (see below)


Clean the ramps by cutting off the root ends, and cutting away the top leaves, leaving just a bit of green. Rinse under cool running water and then dry. Cut them into 1/4-inch pieces.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and ramps and sauté until the ramps are tender, 3 to 5 minutes (the cooking time will increase as ramp season progresses and they grow firmer). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the ramps to a bowl, and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Discard the garlic and the oil.

In a wide shallow bowl, combine the flour with the cornstarch and season with

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Place the milk in another shallow bowl.

Wipe the sauté pan clean with a paper towel. Add the 1/2 cup oil and heat over a medium-high flame until very hot.

Dip the crabs into the milk, and then dredge lightly in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour, and then repeat: soak in the milk, dredge in the flour, shake. Repeat with the lemon slices. Place the crabs in the sauté pan, top side down, along with the lemon slices—they should sizzle. Cook the crabs until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked crabs to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool, and season immediately with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Set out four serving plates. Drizzle the vinaigrette around each plate and place two crabs, some ramps, and a few lemon slices on each. Serve immediately.


Sherry Vinaigrette


Makes 3/4 cup

3 tablespoons sherry-wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking until emulsified. The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated; whisk before serving.

Trout Almost Amandine with Pistachios

Trout Almost Amandine with Pistachios

Serves 4


This is my take on trout amandine, made with pistachios instead. Italians love pistachios, so this dish goes hand in hand with my love of everything Italian. I toast the pistachios and crush them, "bread" the trout in them, lay lemon slices on top of the fish, and throw the whole thing under the broiler. Any trout will do for this dish, but I use golden trout whenever I can get my hands on some, because I love the color of the flesh.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and crushed

Four 6-ounce boneless trout fillets

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Preheat the broiler.


Combine the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow bowl. Place the crushed pistachios in another wide shallow bowl.

Season the trout fillets with salt and pepper. Slide the fillets through the butter-oil mixture, then press the flesh side down into the pistachios. Place the fillets, skin side down, on a baking sheet, and top each with two or three lemon slices.

Broil the fish for 6 to 8 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and the fish has begun to flake. Serve immediately, with the bubbling butter and oil spooned over.