Foods of Summer: A World in Flames (May, 1999)

  Wood-Grilled Spicy Soft-Shell Crab on Toasted Sourdough Bread

The Chef
JONATHAN WAXMAN of Colina (closed)

Serves four.

2 red bell peppers
1 Vidalia onion, unpeeled
1 Anaheim chili
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 anchovy fillet, cleaned and mashed
4 soft-shell crabs (live), cleaned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thick slices of sourdough bread
16 3-inch-long spears from a romaine-lettuce heart
Juice of 1 lemon

Cooking Instructions
Place the peppers, Vidalia onion, and chili pepper on the grill over medium-hot coals, and cook until the peppers blister and turn dark brown. Remove the peppers and chili from the grill, and place in a covered bowl to steam. Leave the onion over the coals until it is cooked through (the outer layer will turn black).

When the peppers and chili are cool, peel and seed them, retaining any juices, and cut them into 1/4-inch strips. Peel and cut the onion into strips.

Toss the onion and peppers in a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, the crushed garlic, and the anchovy, and set aside in the refrigerator, covered, to marinate for up to 24 hours.

Place the crabs in a bowl with 34 cup of the oil, salt, and pepper, and marinate for 1 to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the crabs from the marinade. Cook over hot coals for 3 minutes on each side, until they just start to char. Grill the bread until golden brown.

Toss romaine spears with the pepper mixture. Spoon an equal amount on each slice of grilled bread and top with a soft-shell crab. Season each crab with lemon juice and remaining olive oil.