When Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are unavailable for this recipe, substitute other sweet, succulent crab meats, such as Dungeness, King, or snow crab. Cook fresh crab meats within 24 hours or use frozen, canned, or pasteurized. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs shed their shells and grow new ones more than 20 times during their life span. During the brief stage right after they molt and before their new shells harden, they are completely edible.
Rinse crabs; pat dry with paper towels. In a dish mix egg and milk. In another dish mix crushed crackers, flour, Parmesan cheese, and pepper. Dip the crabs into the egg mixture, then coat them with the cracker mixture.
In a 10-inch skillet heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add half of the crabs, back side down. Fry 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. Turn carefully and fry 3 to 5 minutes more or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a 300 degree F oven. Repeat, adding remaining oil as needed. Serve crabs on a platter lined with curly endive, if desired. Makes 4 servings.