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Apr 10, 2008 11:29 AM

Soft Shell Crabs.

They are back and now what? What are your best recipes? I have never cooked them and don't want to waste good, fresh and quite costly crabs, Help.

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  1. I dust them lightly with flour and sauté them with Canola oil. Or you can batter them similar to a cutlet; flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs then fry them.

    1. There is an excellent recipe on epicurious. Since I can't copy and paste here for you, just go to The recipe is called 'Soft-Shelled Crabs Meuniere' and it's from Gourmet magazine, April 2001. It's delicious and simple; and I've made it dozens of times. I served this recipe to some friends and everyone wanted the recipe. One friend makes soft shells with this recipe at least twice a week. it's a bit rich, but it's also simple and easy

      2 Replies
      1. re: mschow

        Thanks. I like that recipe and will try it. I was also looking for a Thai version I tasted while over there. The same breading but with penko and a lime and chili dip.

        1. re: mschow

          Soft-Shelled Crabs Meuniere......a slight variation a friend made for me in his restaurant once was:

          Instead of simple Wondra Flour, the crabs were dipped in an egg and parsley mixture and pan sauteed sort of like a Francais/Francese. For the sauce some shallots, green onions and concasse tomatoes were sweated with white wine and finished with butter and lemon to bring the sauce together. Amazing..........

        2. I've never prepared them. I was going to buy some at the farmer's market last summer but I got scared when the fisherman guy said I would have to remove the face and guts while they were still alive. As a former vegetarian I just couldn't deal. Do you do that?

          12 Replies
          1. re: NYCkaren

            I've done that - you use kitchen shears.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Me too but the crab is never, ever alive when I do it. They are always thawed and dead.

              1. re: mrsfury

                I had to do it once on the Eastern Shore of MD at a friend's home on live ones ... at the tender age of 20!

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Ack! The horror! Thank God you can just throw live shrimp and crawfish in boiling water.

                  1. re: mrsfury

                    No Biggie. Just cut off the mustache and some of the gills and into the preparation. It is a heck of a lot easier than shucking oysters.

            2. re: NYCkaren

              A good fishmonger would have no problem cleaning them for you, and they would not charge extra either. I am surprised this fisherman told you that you would have to do it yourself. No way could I cut off the face and eyes either...I also can't cook a lobster at home, so I am with you on that issue. My fish store sells them cleaned and ready to cook. They are a real treat. I suggest you find a nice fish store or someplace like WF that carries them and will clean them for you.

              1. re: NYCkaren

                I have cleaned crabs all my life, and having a 1/2 Chinese mother, I learned to clean only Live crabs. Once they croak they are only good for stock.Having said that and loving the freshness and taste of soft shells, I really need to find a simple but tasty recipe that will WOW my crab loving wife.

                1. re: currymouth

                  You're a brave man. I used to watch my mom prep blue crabs all the time. I was fascinated watching her but too chicken to do it. She'd just nonchalantly take the claws off and chop and clean the crabs. She made it look so easy. I have issues just putting a lobster in a pot. But I think dressing a soft-shelled crab is a bit easier than the hard-shelled ones. So thanks for inspiring me to give it a try.

                  Haven't made it but I would bread it in something like rice flour and serve it on top of a Thai papaya or mango salad. I think that would be delicious.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    My beautiful bride will not be on the same floor when I clean crabs. but had no problem eating my stir fried crabs. I was thinking about a seasoned coating of panko,garam masala, and powdered ginger. salt and pepper of course. pan fried in rice bran oil. What do you think?

                    1. re: currymouth

                      Sounds yummy. You may need something like eggs or milk to make the panko stick. If you want to make a sauce, I think a coconut curry one will also go well.

                      Sigh. I think I'll pick up some soft-shelled crabs tomorrow.

              2. Love soft shell crab. i buy a bunch in May then freeze. Last until about Sept.

                I dredge in season flour and fry it. Eat with tartar, catsup or plain. Its all good. Really one of the best foods. I think it is worth it to buy the larger "whales" for a bit more money. Much more meat.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Soup

                  I didn't know there was a season to soft shells. Can I ask what area of the country you are in? I am in the mid-atlantic and haven't seen them at the fish store in months. Last time i asked the fishmonger for them he said they were too expensive so he didn't purchase any from his source. I didn't realize there was a season (like oysters).

                  1. re: mschow

                    There's no such species as "soft shell crab". It's moulting season for the (blue?) crabs, and their new shells quickly harden, so you gotta get them qhile they're soft.

                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                      I know what soft shell crabs are, and that they become hard shell crabs when the shell hardens. My question was is there a season to when this happens in the midatlantic region.

                    2. re: mschow

                      In the mid atlantic states, the season is may. But you can find them also other times of the year. We usually hit the outer banks for memorial day wekk and on the way there is this really great place that sells them for great price (they are all still alive). We pick up at least a dozen for the week. On the way back we stock up for rest of the summer.

                  2. I've eaten soft shell crabs, probably 100 times. Hoping that there was something about this "so-called" delicacy, that I've missed. Tough, tasteless, and expensive. I've crabbed for Blue Crabs my entire life, and I love them (the hard-shelled version). And to this date, I have no clue what anyone sees in a soft shell crab.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dhedges53

                      It's the crunch of the outside combined with the juicy sweet meaty goodness of the innards. It's OK if you don't like it. More for me!

                      1. re: dhedges53

                        Then you've never had it cooked properly. The flavor of a crab with fried goodness on the outside.