6 medium to large soft-shell crabs
Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil for deep frying, at least 3 cups
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Buy soft-shell crabs as fresh as possible at a store specializing in seafood. They might be cleaned and ready to cook. If not, lift each side of the back shell and remove the gills (dead-man's fingers). Turn crab over and remove apron or flap. Cut off about 1/4 inch of the face including the eyes - this is easily done with scissors. Rinse crab under cold water being careful not to tear its delicate shell. Yellow fat and orange eggs, if any, may be left in tact. Pat crabs dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and peppers. Heat oil to 375 degrees in a large pot or deep fryer. While oil is heating, mix flour with a liberal amount of salt and peppers in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add milk. When oil is ready, dip one crab at a time gently into flour mixture, then egg wash, then flour mixture again. Shake off excess. Using tongs, hold the crab legs down and set the legs into the oil first. Hold them there for about 20 seconds and then submerge the whole crab upside down. This makes the legs curl away from the body. Turn the crab at least once while cooking. Keep a thermometer in the oil and add a second crab when temperature is back to 375. Add crabs gradually, keeping the temperature up. Don't overcrowd pot. Turn crabs once or twice and fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown. Take up one at a time when ready and place on a paper towel-lined oven-proof pan or platter. Hold in a 200-degree oven until all crabs are fried. Serve immediately.