The coating on these crabs isn't nearly as light as that at Bernard's, but without access to a deep-fat fryer and gallons of oil, we'll leave that recipe to the professionals. These can also be served without bread; in that case, use the basil aioli as a dipping sauce. Serves 4.
|4||jumbo-size soft-shell crabs, cleaned by a fishmonger|
|1 1/2||cups buttermilk|
|2||cloves garlic, chopped|
|10||large fresh basil leaves, chopped|
|1||tablespoon ground black pepper|
|1||cup canola or peanut oil|
|8||slices bread, toasted|
|1/2||head iceberg lettuce, cut into strips|
|1||large tomato, cut into 8 slices|
2. For the basil aioli: In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and basil. Blend until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate.
3. In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.
4. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is sizzling. One at a time, using tongs, lift the crabs from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the crabs in the flour mixture on both sides. Lift from the flour and ease into the hot fat. Fry the crabs for about 3 to 4 minutes on a side or until they are crisp and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
5. To make the sandwiches, spread the bread with the basil aioli and layer lettuce, tomato, and one crab on each sandwich.