HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What's your latest food quest? Tell us about it

Buying Live Soft Shell Crabs

sathan Jun 2, 2008 12:29 PM

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

  1. Zeldog Jun 2, 2008 12:36 PM

    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
      retloctt Jun 3, 2008 03:34 AM

      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. rabaja Jun 2, 2008 01:47 PM

      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
        sylphi Jun 2, 2008 10:11 PM

        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
          Zeldog Jul 26, 2008 03:42 PM

          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
            wolfe Jul 26, 2008 04:04 PM

            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. o
          OldTimer Jun 3, 2008 04:55 PM

          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. re: Docsknotinn
            OldTimer Jun 15, 2008 10:00 AM

            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. rabaja Jun 3, 2008 05:41 PM

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

            1. j
              johnoday Jun 5, 2008 03:59 AM

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: johnoday
                Robert Lauriston Jun 15, 2008 10:56 AM

                Which valley? Silicon Valley?

              2. s
                Sharuf Jun 16, 2008 01:11 AM

                Are we talking about an East Coast type of seafood here? I've never heard of eating soft shell dungeness.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sharuf
                  moto Jun 16, 2008 12:43 PM

                  Sharuf, right now is the soft shell season (moulting) for blue crabs, especially in the Chesapeake bay region. If you've eaten at sushi places that do a lot of rolls, tempura soft shell crab often made from off-season frozen crabs is a popular ingredient. Coming acrosss the continental U.S. doesn't seem distant relative to the long trips made by some of the seafood in the marketplace.

                2. little big al Jun 16, 2008 06:47 AM

                  Bought some last Friday at Marina Meats on Chestnut St, S.F. for $4.00 each. Dredged them in flour, dipped them in egg and rolled them in Matzo meal ( we were out of bread crumbs). A couple of minutes in hot fat and yum. Don't bother with frozen, they seem to me to develop a nasty,bitter crab-liver taste.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: little big al
                    FishBreath Oct 22, 2012 01:10 PM

                    This is an old thread but see little big al is still active. Been wondering how good the meat is in the soft shell Dungeness Crab, they say it is watery & poor quality. Is that just a misnomer to deter harvesting at this stage?

                  Show Hidden Posts