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Apr 11, 2007 07:26 AM

Any soft shells yet?

Is it too early to start seeing local soft shell crabs? Thanks.

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  1. At least a month too early for softshells from the Chesapeake in any fishable/marketable numbers.

    1. I was at Restaurant Eve on Monday evening in the Bistro and they had soft shell crabs as an appetizer. We didn't get them so we didn't ask for more information (where they were from, etc.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: milocat

        They had to have been frozen not fresh.

        1. re: Meg

          They shed year-round in the warmer waters of the Gulf. Not as plentiful as during the summer, but still available.
          Doubt Eve would serve frozen crabs. Ick!

      2. Due to the recent freezing weather, I read that the season has probably been pushed back by one month.

        1. I don't know where they came from, but America's Seafood in Arlington had them last weekend either to buy fresh or as a sandwich.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bacchante

            When you see soft shells "out of season" they are normally mango crabs from Thailand and that area where they shed year round. They are normally brought to the States frozen. I would expect that you should start seeing soft shell blues in about a month.

            1. re: dinwiddie

              It was noted on today that soft-shells have been seen at Oceanaire and BLT Steak. No idea if they're local.


              1. re: dinwiddie

                "Out of season" soft shells are often from the Gulf where blue crabs shed year-round.
                The locals might be late this year year since water temperatures have been lower than normal. If you see dead crabs in seafood markets, steer clear. It's a pretty good sign that they were frozen and defrosted - not good quality. Top restaurants shouldn't be serving those.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  Soft shell season opened off the coast of north carolina this past weekend and I have seen some very fresh whales come in (in the biz) with very nice quality and pretty good value as well.

                  1. re: tthumpern

                    That's good news. We'll probably have to wait awhile for the local ones. The Bay water temperatures are still pretty cold. That water is heavily affected by the Potomac and its estuaries even though the Bay is tidal. Takes a while to warm up.
                    I'll eat the NC softshells in a heartbeat!

            2. Hello, softshell novice here. Had my first in tacos at Oyamel a while back (early June?) and was wowed... Now I have a craving. How long is the season? Any recommendations for metro-accessible places in DC or NoVa?

              2 Replies
              1. re: amacdc

                Central (short walk from metro center, might be a closer spot), Majestic (old town, king street metro), New Heights (woodley park metro)

                1. re: amacdc

                  Congrats on your food find! My favorite way to enjoy softshells is in the no-frills sandwiches I had them on growing up...breaded and fried on white toast with a tomato slice and a leaf of lettuce (maybe just a little bit of mayo). The only places I know of to get a softshell sandwich in NoVa are Quarterdeck in Arlington and Captain Pells in Fairfax, but I usually indulge these cravings on my frequent trips back to the Baltimore area.

                  Softshells also actually freeze fairly well for a period of time if done properly, and a lot of places, even some higher end places and even around here, use frozen softshells, and they're still quite good. As with so many other things though its hard to beat fresh and local.

                  One of my longtime friends who also moved away from Baltimore, but landed further away than I did, has recently started ordering them from, a Maryland-based business, and says he cannot believe how good they are condisering they are frozen and shipped. Have not tried them myself.