Mardi Gras Crab Jubilee

Text: John Folse

For years, friendly debate has been waged between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, regarding which city first observed Mardi Gras on the North American continent. Mobile—founded by French settlers in 1702—contends that they first observed the event. Louisianans attest that on Tuesday, March 3, 1699, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and his “krewe” religiously observed the first Mardi Gras in the New World, 12 leagues from the mouth of the Mississippi River. Iberville noted in his journal, “We have given the name Mardi Gras to this point.”

New Orleans might claim Mardi Gras, but Mobile Bay is gifted with the fishing phenomenon known as a jubilee, which occurs randomly during summer months between Point Clear and Daphne on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. According to Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, conditions have to be just right for the phenomenon to occur. The day before a jubilee, skies are overcast or cloudy; there is a gentle east wind and a calm bay surface. Upward-moving, oxygen-poor bottom waters force a panoply of fish and shellfish to the shoreline, where they are stranded and become easy picking for locals. Flounder, blue crab, small fish, shrimp, and eels can be picked up by the bushel basket, but the phenomenon ends with the rising of the sun and tide.

Whether celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans or a fishing phenomenon on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore, no better dish can celebrate Carnival season than my Mardi Gras Crab Jubilee!

Mardi Gras Crab Jubilee
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 1½ cups Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, divided
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons salt-free Creole seasoning*
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Creole mustard, divided
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, divided
  • ½ teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked free of shell
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 4 soft-shell crabs
  • 1 cup yellow corn flour
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil, divided
  • White Rémoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Red Rémoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 4 poached eggs
  • Blender Hollandaise Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
White Rémoulade Sauce
  • 1½ cups mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sliced green onion
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup Creole mustard
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Red Rémoulade Sauce
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup Creole mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup sliced green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add yellow onion, celery, bell pepper, and minced garlic. Cook until vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked vegetables, 1 cup bread crumbs, green onion, mayonnaise, 1 egg, minced parsley, seasoning blend, 1 teaspoon mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and hot sauce. Gently fold in crabmeat; adjust seasonings, if desired. Shape mixture into 2½-inch patties (about 1 inch thick), and lightly dust with remaining ½ cup bread crumbs. Place on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together milk, ½ cup water, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, remaining 2 eggs, and remaining 3 tablespoons mustard until well combined. Place soft-shell crabs in batter, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 200°.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together corn flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, thyme, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1½ teaspoons black pepper.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat ½ cup oil over medium-high heat.
  7. Drain excess liquid from crabs, and dredge in corn flour mixture, shaking off excess.
  8. Fry crabs for 4 minutes per side. Keep warm in oven.
  9. Wipe pan clean. Add remaining ¼ cup oil to pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning each cake gently to avoid breaking.
  10. Divide fried crabs among 4 serving plates, and top each with 1 tablespoon White Rémoulade Sauce. Place 1 crab cake on top of each fried crab, and top with Red Rémoulade Sauce. Top each with 1 poached egg, and spoon Blender Hollandaise Sauce on top. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
White Rémoulade Sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Red Rémoulade Sauce
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, mustard, and vinegar until well combined. Stir in green onion and all remaining ingredients until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
*We used Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend.

Blender Hollandaise
Makes 1½ Cups
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Dash Louisiana hot sauce
  1. In the container of a blender, add hot tap water, and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small stockpot, melt butter over medium-low heat, swirling constantly, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150°.
  3. Discard water from blender. In the container of blender, combine egg yolks, vinegar, wine, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and hot sauce. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes. With blender running, add butter in a slow, steady stream until combined. Serve immediately. (This sauce cannot be reheated, as butter will melt and separate.)



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