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Any soft shells yet?

jeb Apr 11, 2007 07:26 AM

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

  1. a
    amacdc Jul 12, 2007 08:27 AM

    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
      jpschust Jul 12, 2007 08:33 AM

      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
        Lowbar Jul 12, 2007 09:03 PM

        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 thegreatgourmet.com, a Maryland-based business, and says he cannot believe how good they are condisering they are frozen and shipped. Have not tried them myself.

      2. b
        bacchante Apr 11, 2007 02:39 PM

        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
          dinwiddie Apr 12, 2007 05:11 AM

          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
            jaydreb Apr 12, 2007 08:23 AM

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


            1. re: dinwiddie
              MakingSense Apr 12, 2007 09:08 AM

              "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
                tthumpern Apr 12, 2007 07:55 PM

                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
                  MakingSense Apr 12, 2007 08:11 PM

                  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. c
            Chownut Apr 11, 2007 01:00 PM

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

            1. m
              milocat Apr 11, 2007 07:49 AM

              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.)

              3 Replies
              1. re: milocat
                Meg Apr 11, 2007 05:50 PM

                They had to have been frozen not fresh.

                1. re: Meg
                  MakingSense Apr 12, 2007 08:57 AM

                  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!

                  1. re: Meg
                    mousse T Apr 12, 2007 09:36 PM

                    that is a bully, there are softshell crabs available right now. they may not be local but they are fresh you dumbtank. and no , they are not from thailand mango crabs.
                    you people think that you know too much in fact you only know just a little.
                    if Restaurant Eve, BLT, and Corduroy are serving them , they are definitely fresh not frozen. they may be from the Gulf.

                2. Lowbar Apr 11, 2007 07:45 AM

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

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