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Jun 2, 2008 12:29 PM

Buying Live Soft Shell Crabs

Does anyone know where I could buy live soft shell crabs in the Bay Area?

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  1. I don't believe you will ever find live soft shells in a market. Even in Louisiana I never saw such a thing. The problem is if you keep them alive the shells harden and then you have plain old crabs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zeldog

      This is VERY untrue, unless you can keep them alive for a few months. Soft shells are regular hard shells that are molting the old shell. Hence the short season. FWIW you can t keep them alive out of natural environment more than a couple days. They need not be alive to be eaten, the enzymes that degrade the meat do not form for about 24 or so hours after they die. This also applies to lobster as well. I have cooked TONS of recently dead lobster with few problems.

    2. You can find them live at Bryan's right now, around $5.50 each.
      Nijiya has them as well, for $3.99 ea.
      They were live when I brought them home last time (from Bryan's), but they do die quickly so try to buy them the same day you'll be cooking them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

        i saw them in the fridge at a seafood center on Clement St in San Francisco two weekends ago. I believe it's right next to Pizza Orgazmica

        1. re: rabaja

          Well, I stand corrected. I guess you can get whatever you want if you pay enough. But $4 to $6 for a crab that weighs around 6 ounces (which means maybe 3 oz of meat)? I love soft shells, but now they are a pleasure I can only enjoy when I visit my former home state.

          1. re: Zeldog

            Well you eat pretty near all of the soft shell and our dungeness averages about 20 to 25% meat. I guess the "meat" to cost ratio is close to the same.

        2. Soft shell crabs may be frozen. They do not taste quite as good as cooked when live (and there is a certain thrill in seeing the little buggers crawl around the pan). We had a restaurant in the family for a while and most of the soft shells were kept frozen until cooked to order. Good idea to clean before freezing. Many oriental markets carry soft shells at a price more reasonable than the upscale food stores. They are shippen live and live a few days out of water.

          1 Reply
          1. No...not really. I grew up on soft shell crabs on Chesapeake Bay. Even after removing the gill bailers (called by many the "dead man") and severing the mouth area, a certain degree of nerve impulse remains. A healthy, live crab will respond to the heat even after cleaning. As a kid, we would wade out into the mud flats at low tide and reap a harvest...crab sandiches were a favorite.

          2. Saw them again today at Bryan's, $6/each. They were very much alive, their little legs were moving back and forth.

            1. anywhere to be recommended in the valley? is this typically their season?

              1 Reply