Doris & Ed’s Soft-Shell Crab BLT

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Overlooking Sandy Hook Bay in Highlands, N.J., with a view toward Manhattan, Doris and Ed’s has exemplified fine summer seafood at the Jersey shore for 33 years. Merging traditional and contemporary, Owner Jim Filip and Executive Chef Tom Donohoe feature a Today and Yesterday menu that gives guests the chance to choose between old-school and new-day preparations. None are better than the soft shell crab. There’s the “Yesterday” traditional soft shell crab saute, or, the “Today” Crab BLT with basil mayonnaise, pancetta and beefsteak tomatoes on peppered brioche. Here’s that recipe, from Chef Tom.

Makes 2 loaves peppered brioche ; Sandwich instructions are for one sandwich

Peppered Brioche Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3-cup warm water, 105 to 110 degrees F
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon black butcher pepper

Basil Mayonnaise (1 1/2 cups) Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons warm water
  • 1-cup basil leaves, medium packed
  • 1 1/2 cups blended oil
  • Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crab BLT Ingredients

  • 2 jumbo soft shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup Wondra flour, for dredging
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 thick slice brioche, grilled or toasted (Brioche recipe above; method below)
  • 1 cup Basil Mayonnaise (recipe above & method below)
  • 6 to 8 arugula leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 to 3 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 3 thin slices pancetta, cooked and kept warm
  • Shoestring potatoes or potato chips


  1. Make brioche: Mix the yeast, sugar, and salt with the warm water. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Add all the flour at this time and mix on low speed. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Add the pepper and continue to beat for 5 minutes. Scrape contents of mixer bowl into a large stainless steel bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. (About 1 1/2 hours).
  3. Punch down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to continue with preparation, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Separate the dough into two large loaf pans and let rise again until it is 3/4 of the way up the side of the pan. This will take about 1 1/2 hours. Bake for 45 minutes at 375.
  4. Make basil mayonnaise: Place the egg yolks in a food processor and pulse in the water. Add the basil. Turn on the processor and add the oil through the top feed. Add the salt and pepper to taste. If the mayonnaise is too thick, add a little water. Place Basil Mayonnaise in a squeeze bottle for use.
  5. Prepare crabs:  Clean the crabs by clipping off the eyes and mouth with kitchen sheers, removing the tail, and the gills by peeling back the corners of the shell and gently pulling the gills off with a paring knife.
  6. Season the crabs gently with salt and pepper and dust with Wondra flour. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and when the butter begins to foam, add the crabs, top side down Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, then, turn over. Be careful as the oil may spit violently. Cook for another 90 seconds to 2 minutes and remove the crabs to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess grease. Keep warm.
  7. Assemble sandwich: Place the toasted brioche in the center of a plate and cover generously with the basil mayonnaise. Layer the arugula leaves, tomato slices, and warm pancetta in that order on top of the brioche. Top with the warm crabs and squeeze more basil mayonnaise over the plate and the crabs. Serve with shoestring potatoes or chips.

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