Jason Stanhope cooks with a light hand. And come springtime, the chef de cuisine at Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant FIG chooses to sauté soft-shells in modest puddles of medium-hot butter until just golden brown, letting the natural flavors of the crabs shine through. “We don’t even season them, because they’re pretty much seasoned by the ocean,” he says. “They take on a lot of salt in that vulnerable state.”
He keeps any accompaniments simple and seasonal. In the summertime, a sautéed crab might arrive at the table atop a fat slice of heirloom tomato. This time of year, though, you’re more likely to find peas and greens on the plate, along with a couple of ramps. Improvise your own salad, or follow the directions below for Stanhope’s seasonal mix.