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Apr 1, 2008 01:00 PM

Softshell Crabs

I've eaten and prepared softshell crabs for over 20 years exclusively fried: battered; sauteed; flour dusted, deep fried, every kind of sauce and my favorite of lemon butter sauce. And over the last two weekends the SO brought home some softshell crabs and we fried them as usual, one time dipped in egg wash then flour dip and the other just dusted with flour and sauteed in butter. Ummm...
But I began wondering and started looking through our cookbooks and couldn't find a Non-frying recipe for softshell crabs. Asian, American, French, Italian. Now, I know one of the main reasons softshell crabs are so wonderful is because the soft shell gets so delicious when it's fried, but can the chowhounds come up with a Non-fried recipe for softshell crabs? heh.

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    1. re: hill food

      hahaha I thought so. fried it is, yeah?

    2. I haven't had it any other way, but i'm thinking I saw them grilled on TV, probably food network.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ESNY

        That was my first thought, dry heat and charcoal. But a spicy glaze or a BBQ-type baste to try to get at least a crunchy shell. cool.

      2. I have seen a grilled ssc recipe before but I don't think I could go that route. Ssc, coated and fried and slapped between 2 slices of Wonder Bread with real mayo and a crisp leaf of iceberg lettuce is as close to nirvana and a warm freshly picked and sliced tomato in a sandwich in August.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          Candy, it's not fair for you to post this in April ;-). So hungry now!

          1. re: MMRuth

            April treats hmmm...Well I am sipping a real honest to God Coke made with sugar. Pikawicca and I are wondering if Kroger got it in from Mexico for Passover and the locals did not know not to stock it in the Mexican Food aisle instead of with the Passover foods. Shad roe is about to become available. It is just about that time. SSC will be on the heels of the shad roe. I guess everything in season but I sure could go for an August " 'mater samwich" . It will soon be time to get the plants in the ground. I've got a lovely little rack of spring lamb for tonight and maybe some asparagus. That is good April food.

          2. re: Candy

            yumm! Here's an idea: still fried but what if I stuff something under the soft shell and then fry it (either dipped or sauteed). like a little bit of bread crumbs with parsley and lemon zest. or a lobster mousee? This is veering into the blasphemous, yeah? hehe.

            1. re: Candy

              You're so right. 20 years ago in New York City there was a mob restaurant down on the pre-renovated waterfront that sold that very combo, minus the lettuce leaf and with a short beer --for a dollar. And sometimes I had trouble finding the dollar!!!

              It's still my favorite springtime treat!

            2. They just wouldn't taste the same if they weren't pan or deep fried. BTW, a word of caution to first-timers trying to deep-fry soft-shells at home. About one in every 5 or 6 that you fry will explode. Air pockets in the cavity take about 30 to 45 seconds to superheat and if there is no escape route...kablooey! If you are standing over them, you can get a face full of hot oil droplets. It happened to me twice. Always put a platter screen over the softshells immediately after they go in the deep fry and/ or keep your distance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: HSBSteveM

                Yeah man, I know, I know, hehehhe. but I was just wondering if the chowhounds out there with their creativity and many ethnic backgrounds had other ideas of how to cook softshell crabs. I'm liking the idea of a grilled ssc; you may be able to get a crunchy tasty shell and still have the buttery sweet soft inside. Come on chowhounds give me some ideas and i'll give them a try this summer when the true chesapeake softshell crabs come into season.

              2. Have you ever tried Singapore Chili Crab? I had a couple boxes of frozen soft shelled crabs that I cooked using this method...They turned out great...I even did one batch without frying first, just made them in the same way as you would the hard shelled...Turned out pretty well, but the ones that were floured and deep fried first were much better....

                here's the recipe I used:


                2 Replies
                1. re: soypower

                  No, I've never had Singapore Chili Crab! OMG, the recipe you linked sounds delicious. Now, the version on the web site fries the soft shell crab with a flour coating, so yah, it's a variation on frying, then saucing the crabs. yum.

                  Okay, I must say I much prefer my softshell crabs live, they're less wet then the frozen ones and the texture of the meat of the live crabs are much better. I'm wondering if a honey/chili sauce glaze over a charcoal fire would make a crunchy shell and a sweet inside. hmmm...

                  1. re: PakaloloDreams

                    I wish I could get them fresh, but budget and I think locale dictate that I purchase frozen...:o) I like your idea of grilling them with the glaze...I may just have to try it!