Soft-shell crab tacos with guacamole, shaved fennel & sweetcorn salad

Soft-shell crab tacos with guacamole, shaved fennel & sweetcorn salad

Chris Middleton

Australia produces some world-class seafood and soft-shell crabs are a great example. Young blue swimmer and mud crabs shed their hard shells at certain times of the year, and these are replaced by paper-thin textured skins. This taco is one of the most popular I’ve put on any menu. The soft tacos filled with crunchy fried crab, slathered in spicy tomatillo verde and fresh, clean-tasting crisp fennel salad, is an absolute winner.


Quantity Ingredient
12 Tortilla dough, small homemade masa flour tortillas
or 12 store-bought tortillas
Streetcorn, Avocado crema
Tomatillo verde

Soft-shell crab

Quantity Ingredient
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
150g plain flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt, to taste
3 defrosted soft-shell blue crabs, quartered
250ml buttermilk

Shaved fennel & corn salad

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 corn cobs, kernels removed
sea salt, to taste
1 small fennel bulb, excess stalk removed
100g pickled jalapenos, sliced
Mexican-style pickles, preferably homemade
1 red onion
1 small handful bronzed fennel fronds or dill, picked
125ml Latin vinaigrette
sea salt, to taste


  1. To prepare the salad, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium–low heat. Cook the corn for 1–2 minutes until tender. Season with salt. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Using a mandoline, thinly shave the fennel. Place in a medium bowl and moisten with a little of the pickled jalapeño liquid. Cover and set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the onion with the mandoline and set aside.
  4. To par-cook the crab, half-fill a large heavy-based saucepan with oil, set over medium heat and heat to 180°C.
  5. Combine the flour, onion, garlic and chilli powders, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Dip the crab pieces in the buttermilk, coat in the seasoned flour and fry in batches for 2–3 minutes until golden. Remove using a slotted spoon or tongs and place on paper towel to drain.
  6. Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat. Lightly spray with oil and briefly fry the tortillas to warm them. Stack the tortillas, wrap in a warm damp tea towel and set aside to keep warm.
  7. Combine the salad ingredients, add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season with salt.
  8. Re-fry the crab for 1–2 minutes until crisp, golden and cooked through.
  9. To serve, place tortillas on serving plates, add a spoonful of guacamole or avocado crema and a piece of crab. Drizzle with tomatillo verde and top with a small amount of salad. Serve immediately with more tomatillo verde on the side.

* Tip

  • To change things up, try replacing the tomatillo verde with Chipotle mayo and add coriander to the salad.
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