Pan-fried Soft-shell Crawfish and Eggplant with Caramelized Nuts and Lemon Butter Sauce
Spicy seasoned flour is used to dust slices of eggplant and soft-shell crawfish, which are fried and stacked on the serving plates. A wine and lemon-based butter sauce and crisp caramelized nuts accent the dish. The Old Bay seasoning listed is a commercial preparation and is found in most large groceries.
- Seasoned Flour
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
- Cayenne Pepper - 1/8 cup
- Old Bay seasoning - 1/8 cup
- Paprika - 1/8 cup
- Kosher salt - 1/8 cup
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1/8 cup
- Baking Powder - 1 tablespoons
- Caramelized Nuts
- Unsalted Butter - 3 ounces
- Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Mixed nuts - 12 ounces
- Eggplant - 4 slices, 1/4-inch thick
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Lemon-Butter Sauce
- Dry white wine - 1 cup
- Champagne Vinegar - 1/4 cup
- Parsley, tarragon, and thyme, - 1 sprig each, stemmed and chopped together
- Shallot - 1, chopped
- Lemons - zest of 3 lemons, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 pound, cut into bits
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1/8 teaspoon
- Soft-shell Crawfish - 24
- Peanut Oil - 2 cups
- Chives - 6, bias-cut into 1-inch segments
To make the seasoned flour: Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. The mixture may be stored in a dry, airtight container for a month.
To make the caramelized nuts: Set a small-mesh rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels or waxed paper. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-high heat in a heavy saute pan or skillet. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar darkens to the color of caramel, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts and stir to coat with the caramel. Spread the nuts out on the rack to drain and cool. Cool five minutes, then break apart any clusters by hand. Set aside. The nuts may be made a day ahead.
Place the eggplant on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes.
To prepare the sauce: Place the wine, vinegar, herbs, shallot, and lemon pieces in a saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce by one-half in volume. Add the cream and reduce by one-half in volume again. Reduce the heat to low. Whisking constantly, whisk in the butter, a few bits at a time, blending each addition completely before adding more. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside in a warm place or in an insulated bottle.
To prepare the eggplant and crawfish: Rinse the salted eggplant slices. Clean the crawfish by cutting off the tip of the head between the eyes and removing the hard calcium deposits. Heat the oil to 350 F in a deep-fryer or heavy saucepan. Lightly dust the eggplant and crawfish with seasoned flour. Fry the eggplant slices for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Fry the crawfish for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown all over; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the pan; it is better to fry in batches. Let the oil return to temperature between each batch.
To serve: Place an eggplant slice in the center of a serving plate. Stack 6 crawfish on top of the eggplant slice. Lade sauce over the crawfish and around the plate. Sprinkle caramelized nuts over the dish and garnish with chive sticks.