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Where do you buy your soft shells?

gavspen Jun 15, 2008 07:29 AM

Is there some groovy fishmonger, maybe down in Chinatown, where one could procure these lovely little morsels at perhaps a bit less than the $5.00 a piece tariff they now command on the upper west side? (In Citarella and Fairway) I know I'm aging myself but I remember when they were $1.99 and nobody knew what to do with them. Ah, the good old days ;-)

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  1. JungMann RE: gavspen Jun 16, 2008 06:41 AM

    I usually buy them at the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market for a fair price (somewhere around $2 or $3 IIRC last season).

    2 Replies
    1. re: JungMann
      NYCkaren RE: JungMann Jun 17, 2008 01:11 PM

      JungMann, I was in the neighborhood yesterday and your post inspired me to stop by Chelsea Market and check the price of soft-shell crabs. They were $5.50 each.

      1. re: NYCkaren
        JungMann RE: NYCkaren Jun 17, 2008 01:53 PM

        Are there any good buys left in NYC? Guess I'll save myself 50 cents and just buy at Fairway from now on.

    2. n
      Nywoman RE: gavspen Jun 18, 2008 03:56 AM

      Haven't checked their prices on the soft shells, Sea Breeze on 9th Avenue and 40th Street usually has very good prices for mid town Manhattan. Give them a call.

      I paid 3.50 a couple of weeks ago at Citarella on 3rd Ave.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Nywoman
        JoanN RE: Nywoman Jun 18, 2008 04:13 AM

        Boy, did you get lucky. At the UWS Citarella they were $5.99 a couple of weeks ago. Noticed yesterday that they were down to $4.99. Still a lot more than last year, but then, isn't everything.

        1. re: Nywoman
          charlie_b RE: Nywoman Jun 18, 2008 08:20 AM

          a few weeks ago they were $3.99 each at Citarella. then 2 weeks ago they went up to $5.99 each there and just about everywhere else.

          i heard that (excepting Chinatown fishmongers, i'm sure, plus some other exceptions) that Citarella pretty much "sets" the prices for them in the city, and that they are the largest purchaser of the sweet-soft-boys.

          i was willing to pay $4/each, but not $6 each.


          1. re: charlie_b
            selizara RE: charlie_b Jun 18, 2008 08:45 AM

            I was only willing to pay the money when they were good-sized crabs. The problem with Citarella was that the crabs were pretty measley the first time I saw them this season and they were still charging $3.99 for really tiny crabs...the kind that you would need to eat 3 of to make a normal dinner portion. A few weeks ago I got two really nicely-sized crabs for $4.99 each and it was worth it because they were plump and delicious.

            I would go to Chinatown except that I really am afraid of cleaning the crabs myself. (And I know that sounds ridiculous since I basically ask for them to be killed when asking to be cleaned, but whatever.)

        2. 5
          50west77th RE: gavspen Jun 18, 2008 06:57 AM

          I get mine from the fish markets between baxter and mott on canal. Don't underestimate the low prices at those markets, the fish there is caught in the same place where you buy it for 3-5 times the price.

          2 Replies
          1. re: 50west77th
            NYCkaren RE: 50west77th Jun 18, 2008 07:09 AM

            I asked this is another thread _ will they clean them for you in Chinatown? Also, I don't have a lot of experience buying soft-shell crabs. How long will they be OK until I get them home and put them in the refrigerator? If I go to Chinatown I'll have either a long-ish walk or a bus ride home. Will they be OK?

            1. re: NYCkaren
              charlie_b RE: NYCkaren Jun 18, 2008 08:17 AM

              they probably won't clean them for you in Chinatown, but they are easy to clean yourself -- really. lot's of resources online for that, and a Bittman video on NYTimes as well.

              that said, they'll transport and store better if they aren't cleaned, because they will still be alive. as soon as you clean them, you kill them and you want to cook ASAP (although could be stored refrigerated for a day if needed).

              i would get them live, and ask them to pack an icebag to keep them cool for your trip home.


          2. d
            dorlene RE: gavspen Jun 24, 2008 10:37 AM

            Definitely Chinatown, gavspen. I take the D train to Grand & Chrystie. Within a half a block of the subway exit are at least two fish markets that sell soft-shells. I prefer the hotel size, which are $14/dozen, plenty for two people. Larger sizes are usually available. They don't clean them for you but that's good since you can keep them alive until you're ready to fry them. For a good crab-cleaning tutorial click http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking/c.... You didn't ask for my recipe but here it is anyway: dust crabs with seasoned 1/2-flour 1/2-cornstarch mixture, Heat peanut oil in cast iron or other skillet til very hot. Saute on both sides til well browned and crisp. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice, sprinkle with capers, and enjoy! I cut them into bite-size pieces with a scissors before serving.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dorlene
              gavspen RE: dorlene Jun 24, 2008 12:52 PM

              Yeah, I guess a dozen oughta be plenty for two people ;-)

              Thanks Dorlene (and all others who chimed in) that's even cheaper that the 1.99 in days of yore; to Chinatown I go.

              1. re: dorlene
                ironcheff RE: dorlene Jun 25, 2008 07:50 AM

                wow, a dozen for 14 bucks! i think i might just re-explore the idea of getting fish in Chinatown.

                1. re: dorlene
                  yt28 RE: dorlene Jun 25, 2008 06:45 PM

                  Just saw soft shell crabs at a fish market on Grand too, between Chrystie and Bowery. They had three different sizes, ranging from $9.99/dozen for scrawny little crabs to $25.99/dozen for great looking ones.

                  1. re: yt28
                    ironcheff RE: yt28 Jun 27, 2008 01:43 PM

                    ok, i'm heading there after work. its soft shell crab fest time!

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