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the elusive soft-shell crab?

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Anyone seen soft shell crabs in the markets on on the menu yet this spring?

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  1. Peach Farm Seafood in Chinatown had them last week.

    10 Replies
    1. re: 9lives

      Unless you don't care make sure the crabs are legal. Crab season dosn't start till may 1. Chineese markets are notorious for ignoring the law. They are legal from NY but please make sure they weren't poached before you buy them.

      1. re: Welcoboy

        If the Chinese restaurants are notorious for ignoring the law; they need to find a supplier who is also willing to break the law.

        As a practical matter, how do you propose someone determine if the crabs or anything else on their plate was poached or not?

        I imagine different states have different seasons.. I was in SC 2 weeks ago and they started their 8 day season..had a few but it's very limited and I doubt many crabs are shipped more than a few miles from where they are harvested.

        1. re: Welcoboy

          <Crab season doesn't start till May 1>

          I don't think that is true. I was under the impression that the season had been moved to April for the past few years. I just listed some restaurants in AZ, where I am now, that have had them on the menu for at least a week or two:

          Phx - Soft Shell Crabs
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6138...

          (Pic I took of soft shell crabs at Peach Farm - making me hungry....).
          http://www.chow.com/photos/44963?tag=...

          1. re: Welcoboy

            Frozen, pan-dressed softies are readily available year round from Handy Crabs. This is why Chinese and Japanese restaurants feature them on their menus. You can buy them anywhere. "Crab season" begins with crabs from Florida and makes its way up the coast until they're plentiful from Chesapeake for a couple of months. You can get fresh ones now.

            1. re: almansa

              A friend of mine who runs 1 of the biz's on the Fish Pier told me he's getting them from the Carolina's right now.

              1. re: almansa

                Exactly, almansa.

              2. re: Welcoboy

                Is that "poaching" as in method of cooking, or method of obtaining?
                I love soft shell crabs.
                CocoDan

              3. re: 9lives

                While at Peach Farm, get the surf clam w/ vermicelli and garlic (served on the shell)-- not on the menu but currently available. Very tender and sweet clams

                1. re: barleywino

                  Peach Farm appears to be temporarily out of fresh ss crabs but expects more next week

                  1. re: barleywino

                    the fresh ss crabs are back at Peach Farm

              4. I asked the chef at one of my usual haunts and he said there are some available in the market but it will still be a couple of weeks before he starts getting a good quality and steady supply. He mentioned that traditionally the first full moon in May (2009 May 9th) is when they really start harvesting.

                1. New deal has them when in season - you can give them a quick call and find out if they are there now.

                  While not specifically soft-shells, New Deal has had live blue crabs recently for $3.99/lb (about 3 crabs).

                  I have never seen live blue crabs anywhere else in Boston so we were pleasantly surprised. Get yourself some Old Bay and get crackin' :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bbqisgood

                    Had a tasty Soft Shell BLT this past tuesday for lunch at Eastern Standard before heading to the red sox game. It was a special for the day so not sure if they will have it all the time.

                    1. re: iloveporkbelly

                      I had it last night. Delicious!

                    2. re: bbqisgood

                      Live blue crabs are a staple in Chinatown markets during crab season. Been eating them since I was a kid and also happen to be my absolutely favorite food.

                    3. Wulf's fish market in Brookline had them a couple of weeks ago.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: RichardinJP

                        New Deal had blue crabs but no soft shells on Saturday. Carl said it's still a few weeks before he starts getting the soft shells.

                        1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                          Courthouse has a sign in the window stating they have them.

                          1. re: phatchris

                            I learned last year that Courthouse will fry them up for you and make into a SSC sandwich in the restaurant. The counter girl will walk over to the market and get them. Can't get fresher than that!

                            1. re: yumyum

                              Essentially anything in the fish market for a $1/lb more can be cooked at the restaurant (basic preparations: fried, broiled, steamed). Keep in mind also that the market has Portuguese sodas and mineral waters (plus their picked peppers, olives, etc) which are worth picking up for a better meal there as the restaurant selection is coke/pepsi. And if you ask first, Pugs up the road might let you bring the food in.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                I scored the last SSC today at 11:45. It was huge and meaty, expertly fried and still juicy, served on a bun (which I ditched) with their very good housemade tartar and fries. My craving is momentarily sated.

                        2. Getting some here on Cape Cod @ local fish markets,,Planning on buying more this weekend,, Check near the waterfront fish purveyors and markets

                          1. Toraya in Arlington had soft shell crab tempura on the specials board a couple of days ago.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ruprecht

                              Tempura soft shell crab are still on the specials menu at Toraya. I didn't have them, had the outstanding bento box instead -- beautiful fresh sashimi plus rice, shumai, pickles, miso soup, cooked salmon and a fried beef tongue appetizer. Pristine and all for $11.

                            2. I got the list from 51 Lincoln sent to me, hope to hit at least one of these. From today on:

                              12. White sauce pizza with clams and softshell
                              13. Crab tamale with softshell and tomatillo salsa
                              14. Softshell with orange risotto, white and green asparagus salad
                              15. Softshell with skordalia, celery heart tomato salad, smoke tomato
                              aioli
                              16. Crispy softshell with cured salmon, capers, horseradish, osetra
                              caviar
                              17. Buffalo style softshell with celery and bleu cheese dip
                              18. Pan fried softshell, curried peas and potato, saffron rice
                              19. Softshell taco, charred tomato chipotle salsa
                              20. Softshell schnitzel, caper, garlic, sunny side egg and toast points
                              21. Crispy softshell, bibb lettuce, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes,
                              smoked jalapeno dressing
                              22. Cantaloupe stuffed softshell wrapped in prosciutto with balsamic
                              reduction
                              23. Cornbread stuffed crispy softshell with honey, lemon and arugula
                              24. Softshell gumbo with okra
                              25. Peppardelle, sundried tomato, feta, kalamata olive, softshell
                              26. Chorizo stuffed softshell, bing cherry reduction
                              27. Beer battered softshell, onion rings, ancho cocoa aioli
                              28. Softshell with avocado, tomato, corn pancake and smoke paprika
                              29. Lima bean falafel, naan, hummus and softshell crab
                              30. Caprese softshell
                              (31. Surprise.)

                              1. Summer Shack in Cambridge had a ssc appetizer on the menu on Friday May 8. The waitress said it was the first day they'd had them. The crab was delicous but very small, the asian slaw and sweet chile sauce was not my favorite accompaniment. For $12.99 you could do better, but I was just happy to get the crab. it was excellent.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                  Peach Farm does 4 small ssc for $18.50...no cole slaw