We're seeing more and more of the live Eastern blue crabs out here on the West coast. So far mainly in Asian markets--I have yet to run across any at Safeway. While the Asians are busy furnishing good, fresh things to eat at very reasonable prices, Safeway and it's ilk are so busy trying to satisfy our banking needs that they don't seem to pay much attention to food anymore.
This can be prepared using either the blue guys or the big ol' Dungeness crabs. This reminds me of the first Vietnamese dish I ever tried, "Roast Crab" at Thanh Long on Judah street in San Francisco years ago. That dish alone won my ever-lasting respect for Vietnamese cuisine. It too used butter, though I'm relatively sure it also used Chinese fermented black beans for their savory kick and the crab wasn't flour coated before frying.
Dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour. In a large skillet heat oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Add the top shells and fry over fairly high heat, turning, until crispy on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain. Discard the cooking oil. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. when the butter melts, add the lemongrass, garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the crab halves and sprinkle with the salt and sugar. Stir well. Add the ginger, green onions and serrano chiles. Cook, stirring often for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the crab tops, hollow side up, on a platter. Tuck the crab pieces in the shells. Pour all of the pan juices over the stuffed shells. Serve at once, with steamed jasmine rice and plenty of napkins for messy hands.
From "The Chesapeake Bay Crab Cookbook", by John Sheilds (Aris/Addison- Wesley, 1992).
From the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/2/92.
NOTE: To convert to Dungeness, three to four blues equal a pound and a half of Dungeness