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Apr 14, 2011 05:43 AM

Any sign of Soft Shells?

I was wondering if any of the Chowhounders have seen any of the fresh soft shell crabs coming into town yet?

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  1. They're in the restos (Nota Bene and Porchetta & Co tweeted about it last week) - not sure about retail.

    Porchetta & Co.
    825 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON , CA

    1. Bill's Lobster is expecting a shipment on Friday, Bill said they will be around $8.95 each as it is the start of the season, but expects prices to drop in a week or so.

      Bill's Lobster
      599 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodyDudey

        Thanks !! $ 8.95 is rich but so will the crabs be when I soak them in buttermilk and fry them up!!

      2. i'm watching taro's blog... they've been getting in perch and smelt recently and i'm expecting soft shells soon. i'm generally ok with butchery (though haven't gone so far as blood letting) but cutting crab faces off is still a line i have to cross. taro's has them raw but it's a great deal to get them fresh cooked there for just $9 (at least that was the price last year).

        14 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          I did it last year - the cutting off of the face that is. The first one was hard, after that it was ok. If you can bring yourself to do, I think you should try at least once IMHO. :-)

          1. re: JennaBean

            I concur wholeheartedly! Compared to slaughtering a pig, face-cutting is easy and it gets you points in the "I saw my food die and I appreciate it that much more" department. :)

            1. re: JennaBean

              i will... i will... i'm even thinking of doing it for a seafood fest celebration evening but i just think of those little beady black eyes and the bubbly mouth and it concerns me.

              weird thing is that if someone told me to chop up the lobster/crab for asian style cooking i'd have a cleaver in my hand no problem. or tearing the head off of a live spot prawn, all over's just that it's the face... the face!

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                If you just can't do i, why not buy from a store that will do the deed for you? I buy my crabs de-faced from Bill's.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  Please, PLEASE do yourself a HUGE favor & clean (face & gill removal) yourself!!!

                  Nine out of 10 seafood vendors butcher the poor things, & for the prices they go for, it's a shame. You only need to snip off about 1/4"-1/2" right behind the eyes. That's it. Yet the seafood counter people are in such a hurry, I've seen them practically cut off half the crab!!

                  Really - it's so easy to do & just takes a second. Do it yourself.

                  1. re: Breezychow

                    At Bill's Lobster, they do it properly. They don't cut off more than required.

                    Bill's Lobster
                    599 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Yeah it's true, Bill does it properly. I live 5 minutes away from Bill's and just drive the faceless crabs straight home and cook them. I'm the same way, I have no issue with jamming a knife into the back of a lobster's head, but killing something by cutting off its face freaks me out.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Taro's soft shells in season are one of those things I crave even 5 minutes after I've finished one!

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  total thread jack.... but taro's blog shows SPOT PRAWNS..... i can't read japanese but i'm going to assume they're in otherwise that is the biggest tease in the whole wide world.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    I know in Chrome, it will ask if you want the japanese page translated into english....very handy. This is what it says:

                    Botan shrimp activity (From Seattle)
                    Botan shrimp season came this year. Active Botan shrimp arrived from Seattle today. Please enjoy the first fruits of sashimi!

                    1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                      i did use that.. but i wasn't fully confident in it's accuracy. sounds good enough to me though!

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                      Bill's Lobsters is expecting spot prawns on Sunday so yes it is probably true.

                  2. From the twitter feed (4 mins old)

                    Campagnolo_ Craig Harding
                    Taro's soft shell crabs are here and on the menu tonight!...

                    832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: JennaBean

                      I called Bill's and the crab did not arrive. Taro's has them for $10.95 each

                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        I love Taro's! Especially since I live right nearby! I picked up a side of gorgeous hamachi today... mmmmmmmmm

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          cooked or raw? i must be remembering prices differently but i recall it being a steal in past years where ematei offers it for $15 cooked and non-japanese outfits at even higher prices.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            The cooked softshell I ordered at Malena cost $10 last April. It could be added as a side, or as an addition to the fritto misto.

                            Wholesale food costs have gone up considerably over the last year, so I'd expect most softshell crab dishes in TO restaurants to run closer to $15-$20 this year.

                            Malena usually tweets when they have softshells on the menu. Not sure if they have any in stock today, but they had some earlier this week.

                            I've also ordered softshell crab at Starfish in the past. Haven't been lately.!/ShuckerPaddy

                            100 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5C1K9, CA

                            Malena Estiatorio
                            120 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON , CA

                            1. re: prima

                              Freshly caught from the twitter stream:

                              Malena120 Malena Restaurant

                              Fresh bacth of beautiful, delicious, Soft Shell Crabs just in! Take a look at these babies! Available everyday:)

                              1. re: prima

                                oh that's fine, prices are what prices are. just for some reason i thought that the price at taro's was a steal for cooked fresh but it looks more like the japanese restaurants were just charging more!

                                looks like i'll finally have to make it to malena!

                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  I contacted Malena, and they informed me that the Soft Shell Crabs are served whole with Wild Ramp & Meyer Lemon Aioli, for $20 per piece. They can also be added to the Fritto Misto.


                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      At that price, I'll suck it up and cut the face off myself!

                                      1. re: acd123

                                        $20 for a North American soft shell crab at an upscale seafood restaurant like Malena seems like a fair price for something that's only available for a short time, especially when I think about the fact fancy burgers that are available yearround now cost $20 at Caren's, $18 at Globe Earth, and $28 at One. Would much rather spend $20 on a soft shell crab at Malena, than spend the same $20 on a vodka soda/glass of red at Avenue/Park Hyatt/One, or on 2 pints of organic strawberries from Pusateri's at $8.99 a pint.

                                        The soft shell crabs that are showing up in Toronto right now are Floridian crabs. I understand that Starfish will serving Chesapeake crabs once the season opens, after May 15, 2011.

                                        Here's some info abt SSC from Diana's:

                                        1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA