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Soft Shell Crabs

All -
I think it's a bit early to be expecting soft shells around Boston in late April as I've heard they really don't appear in the Chesapeake till after the first full moon in May (?), but anyone found soft shells from more southern environs in any stores recently?

Used to buy them at Fresh Pond Seafood in Cambridge... Any updates on Fresh Pond re-opening in Arlington, or any other crab sources in the western 'burbs?

Thanks, and looking forward to shad & roe from CT. in a few weeks.
Best to all!

DW

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  1. Peach Farm in CTown doesn't have fresh yet; maybe a few weeks.

    I noticed a post on the South Board that somewhere in NC had fresh..

    I think this is going to be a little later season than usual for a good supply.

    Top places like ICOB or Neptune may pay up for shipping to get them earlier.

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    Peach Farm
    4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

    1. I recently spoke with the ladies at the North End Fish Market about soft shell crabs. Because of the bad bad winter we had, the SSC season will probably be pushed into June. :(

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      Fish Market
      170 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

        1. re: okra

          Well, I just came back from visiting family on Long Island, where we did have soft shelled crabs....I didn't even think to ask where they got theirs. I searched here in hopes of finding similar distribution to Boston. Oh well.....

          1. re: brotherrat

            They may have been local; they are on the 'specials' menu now at Shagwong Diner in Montauk as being local, fresh SSC.

            1. re: ipsofatso

              court house seafood has softshell crabs

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  Last year they were live, jumbo or whale, and about $5.50 each I think. Haven't stopped in this year yet. Last year New Deal mostly had whales, for about $6.25 each I think.

                  1. re: emannths

                    thanks, usually they are more expensive earlier in the season. last year i bought them from alive and kickin.

                    1. re: emannths

                      my mom was a Virginia country girl and soft shells were her fav thing in the world

                      ( would only eat them lightly floured and sauteed in butter). I will never forget being 13 and living on the james river in va. when a local boy came to my mom with a just-moulted soft shell the size of a sub sandwich (for 25 cents!!)I don't think i had ever seen her so happy :-)

                      And yes, they do NOT freeze well (home-frozen anyway) because there's so much water in them. ugh. Likely high-technology flash frozen is better.

                      Will have to go to Courthouse when they get whales; thnx much for the heads up.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Courthouse ha nothing at 10 AM this AM. If they did, I'd have reserved a few and had lunch...maybe tomorrow. They're here in Boston but it's just whether your monger has them.

                        1. re: 9lives

                          Does courthouse have the SSC sandwiches that I've heard about?

                          1. re: Prav

                            I haven't had them yet this season but I assume they do. My routine is to call them about 10:30 on a day I can make it over there and ask them to hold a few. Then send 1 or 2 over to the restaurant.

                            Just hasn't been the right timing yet this year.

                            1. re: 9lives

                              They don't put it on the "menu" until after the initial rush. ("menu" addition is via a paper plate they can take down quickly.) If you buy them in the seafood market, are nice, and pay a small upcharge to have them cooked there. Keep in mind the restaurant closes at 6:30.

          2. Connolly's Seafood in Gloucester has them but they are dressed and then fresh frozen; they are very good. About 8.00 for a six-pak

            4 Replies
            1. re: ipsofatso

              i will wait for live ones; there is plenty of other seafood available. Courthouse says that they should have some more next week; i did not ask about pricing as i think that it will depend on what they pay.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                There is a great difference between the taste of live vs frozen. Another CH who posts regularly here and I got the frozen instead of the fresh, in season. I won't name the restauraunt..Ctown but when we called over the mgr..he sheepishly acknowledged the error, they'd run out of live and subbed frozen..and took away the plate. What the heck, it was Peach Farm..and they are honest about their fish and shelfish...not sure where soft shell crabs fit in the mix...crabs are shellfish..soft shell are shedding their hard shell...:)

                Taiwan has them on the menu year round. Neevr tried to get fresh.

                Dok Bua does a great version, in season...but they are on the menu year round

                1. re: 9lives

                  preparing soft shell crabs is so simple; it is best done at home. I will not buy them from whole foods as they do not serve them live but cleaned.

                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                    I wouldn't write off WF for that reason

                    Live and wiggling a little is fine as is them cleaning it for you. I usuasually clean my own but if I'm feelng tired or lazy, I'm not above letting some one else do it.......reiterate, frozen is a diff product.

                    If you evr getd own that way, check out this place..

                    http://www.blufftonoyster.com/

                    It'1 of the oldest oyster" factories"...and a s/s crab op that is hand tended for all of 2 weeks.

                    Beautiful spot on the May River,

                    Worth seeing!

            2. We don't see any progress at Fresh Pond/Arlington redux (across from Scutra). There's a truck in the parking lot, a sign out front, and that's all we've seen for some time now. Will post here if we see any signs of life.

              5 Replies
              1. re: digga

                There's been more activity as of late, more contractors/trucks/etc.
                They were actually doing something with the sign today, since it only faces one direction of traffic.

                  1. re: rknrll

                    i don't know anything of this; pse explain! is this the fresh pond sfd.guy?

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      His son.
                      Info here:

                      http://www.yourarlington.com/business...

                      Pictured is the old sign I was talking about...new sign is up with hours posted on it as well. Still looks like a lot of work needs to be done inside...but they do continue to work.

                      1. re: rknrll

                        this is really terrific news! th you.

                1. New Deal's got them (whales). Didn't buy any and forgot to check the price, but they looked nice.

                  1. Just found this link to 51 Lincoln's "soft shell a day" menu... all of May. This might be what I need to get over there. I've really wanted to try it! Has anyone had their softies yet?

                    http://www.bostonchefs.com/news/2011/...

                    -----
                    51 Lincoln
                    51 Lincoln Street, Newton, MA 02461

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: yumyum

                      That's a soft shell cream dream.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        I like how one of their days features "Peach Farm Style" SSC!

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Checked out 51 Lincoln's soft shell special last night. "Chicken fried SSC with sweet corn succotash and sriracha mayo". Meh.... the crab was nicely prepped and fried, still juicy on the inside but it was waaaay salty and at $13 for one, not a good value. The succotash was quite nice and helped with the salt but the sriracha mayo had very little rooster taste if any.

                          Another app of fiddleheads with duck confit and a fresh egg was much more successful, and every bite was a nice combo of the ferny fiddlers with crispy confit and runny yolk.

                          Either the bartender was slammed or he just wasn't firing on all cylinders last night. When asked how the Bordeaux was he replied "delicious". He had a hard time removing menus, refilling glasses and helping us move down to open up a seat for another party at the bar. The place was packed though, which may be more a reflection on the "fine dining" options in Newton than the particular strengths of 51 Lincoln. We started out at O'Hara's which was great. I wish we'd stayed there for wings instead. The bartender there was on his game.

                          -----
                          51 Lincoln
                          51 Lincoln Street, Newton, MA 02461

                          1. re: yumyum

                            We had the salt and pepper fried ssc from Peach Farm lat night...19.95..think the same as last year and they were excellent.coincidentally I also added a little Sriracha..no the mayo; .also the dry fried beef chow foon; which I thought was better done (more wok char) than the very good version I had at thmor dat a few days ago.

                            -----
                            Peach Farm
                            4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                              1. re: 9lives

                                We should have gone to Peach Farm! Drat!

                                -----
                                Peach Farm
                                4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  Chinatown needs a good craft cocktail bar...they can call it Far Eastern Standard

                                2. re: 9lives

                                  Me and two DCs had these today for lunch, along with clams in black bean sauce and sizzling pepper scallops. Perfectly done - should have gotten two orders and skipped one of the other dishes (as much as I like them). May have to go back soon for more.

                                3. re: yumyum

                                  My review of 51 Lincoln in a nutshell, yumyum. On top of it, I'm always under the impression that I'm just one bite away from having-my-plate-cleared-can_I get-you-desert_thank-you_here's-your-check there too. O'Hara's pours a nice Guinness, bartenders always have their head screwed on correctly.

                                  1. re: okra

                                    darn, that's disappointing to hear. I was hoping this would be a good place for him.

                              2. They're here and they're from Chesapeake Bay. Expect to pay around $5 for primes and around $6 for jumbos (just guesses based on wholesale prices).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: almansa

                                  i bought large not jumbos for 4.95 per at Alive and Kickin on monday. The owner thought that they came from Fla and that the season has not started in Maryland.

                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                    Florida and the Carolinas came a bit earlier, but the Maryland crabs have been in town for about a week and a half. The prices have settled a bit, too.

                                  1. re: phatchris

                                    We picked up four SSC at Mercado this past Saturday. 2 for $12.99. Can't go wrong with that especially when they are fresh and freshly cleaned. Gladly pay anyone to do that job! Just call them up and place the order then do a drive by pick up.

                                    1. re: birdy30

                                      I've been pleased with the soft shell crabs I've bought at Mercato in the past. Their sea scallops are alway exceptional.

                                      1. re: 9lives

                                        Ha! 9lives! We bought the scallops as well in honor of the Bruins soon to be victory over the Tampa Bay Scallops. (Lightning) Running joke between me and my husband.

                                      2. re: birdy30

                                        I've never cooked them before, any easy recipe recs?

                                        1. re: phatchris

                                          dredge them in some seasoned flour and egg wash, and either deep fat fry them or saute them in butter or olive oil. Make you sure they clean them in the store or else you need to take off the lungs and stomach sack

                                          1. re: lc02139

                                            I usually go for the sautee method, add a little garlic and white wine.

                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/61246842...

                                            You can also broil or even grill.

                                            1. re: lc02139

                                              ic, stomach sack? qu'est-ce que c'est?I grew up eating them in VA; we cut off the eyes and pulled out the 'devils claws' (lungs i think).Period.

                                              Also, dredged in flour, s and p; no need for egg wash.Sauteed in plenty of butter ( them Southerners LOVES they butter.)

                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                Don't forget the splatter screen!

                                                I too usually do just flour, but I usually use oil and throw in some garlic towards then end (if you put it in at the beginning, you'll wind up with burned garlic).

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  Yeah they don't do it in this video, but I don't usually remove the bottom flap.

                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UocMvH...

                                                  but I usually do it when you cut the eye's off it's attached to the mouth parts, might not be necessary since they probably haven't eaten since they have molted, but in hard shell crabs it's pretty nasty

                                                2. re: lc02139

                                                  and the butt and the face; they really do not like having their butt cut off; they are cooler about the face.

                                                  1. re: lc02139

                                                    I think what you are calling the stomach sack is actually called, by some, the apron, or the abdominal plate. if it has wide triangular shape,the crab is a female; if it has a skinny pointed apex, it is a male. Not necessary to remove; some people do because it can be not as tender as other parts (but that's true of the claws as well.) A JUST moulted soft shell is a divine experience but i don't think that commercial growers ever ship them at that very soft stage.

                                            2. I had them last week at Yankee Seafood. Two small but very plump softshells, nicely fried, for $13.95.

                                              1. $5 each at New Deal. Huge and delicious. Beats what you pay in a restaurant by about 300%.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: scotty27

                                                  Jumbo, I believe. At least if they're the same size as last week. Nice price!

                                                  1. re: emannths

                                                    They've has whales as well this season. Depends on what they get from day to day I suppose.

                                                    1. re: Gabatta

                                                      Whales?

                                                      Yeah, they were jumbo yesterday. The size of frisbees.

                                                      www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                      1. re: scotty27

                                                        Yep, whales are a bit larger than jumbos. They are what New Deal initially had when the first of the season were in a few weeks ago.

                                                  2. re: scotty27

                                                    I don't know about that 300% #; especially if you have them in Chinatown..and not some more "upscale" version. I'm much more of a DIY. You'll rarely see me post on hamburgers in restaurants because I like my own. I was getting in new appliances and cooking home wasn't an option. For frying, my time spent cleaning up after has to be factored in, as is trekking to New Deal, instead of a 2 min walk to Peach Farm

                                                    -----
                                                    Peach Farm
                                                    4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                    1. re: 9lives

                                                      You're right about Chinatown, of course. I was thinking of most restaurants where they at about $14. Personally, I try to avoid eating in Chinatown.

                                                      1. re: scotty27

                                                        Um...why do you avoid eating in Chinatown?

                                                        1. re: bear

                                                          I try to avoid food that is produced in China because the Business section of the NYT weekly reports scandals. Further, I find the animal proteins to be so low in quality and taste in Chinatown restaurants, added by the fact that the animals are from huge, commercial farms typically, that what's on the plate is awful: Taste and ethical farming. I love the noodle and veg dishes in may Chinese restaurants, but won't eat any animal protein at these places.

                                                  3. Bought whales at courthouse seafood today $6@, after hearing Alive and Kicking price of $5 @ for jumbos. "In the old days" these 'whales' would have been 'mediums'. Delic. though.BTW, Crthse squid is always fresh, never frozen like most other places.Comes from R.I. Their octopus is always frozen but Eddie explained that the freezing saves you the trouble of having to pound the fresh stuff.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      Courthouse is such a gem. I also love that they carry Acoreana (sp?) spicy chourico and piri piri sauce for various stews.

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                        I always pass Courthouse and head straight for New Deal, where they're selling SSC for the same price. Gotta' stop in the next time and check them out. Does Courthouse ever sell hamachi collars?

                                                        1. re: kobuta

                                                          they have hamachi at $21 lb right now; eddie was explaining the recent jumop from $15 because of the tsunami in Japan ,and the reason Salmon has been so high $13 lb these last 2 yrs because of the tsunami in chile. i would guess they have collars but i did not ask.sumimasen.( My Love's go- to when we go for sushi.)

                                                          1. re: kobuta

                                                            best to call a few days ahead to reserve a collar, they tend to sell out and generally only have them on weekends iirc

                                                        2. Peach Farm knocked these fresh soft shells out of the park, yesterday. I resisted the instinct to dip them in soy or chili oil because they were seasoned perfectly as-is. After some language difficulties, we also got a nice steamed fresh fish from the tank (not sure of the species), We rounded it out with the best example of beef chow foon I've had, but I'm not a huge fan of that particular dish (it always seems sort of one dimensional to me). Bang up meal.

                                                          -----
                                                          Peach Farm
                                                          4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                           
                                                           
                                                           
                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: crowdingthepan

                                                            Awesome photos. Those SSC are meltingly perfect and I want some now. Even the steamed fish looks fantastic.

                                                            1. re: crowdingthepan

                                                              I went here last week and got a very similar order, but had beef and broccoli lunch special instead of their Dry Fried Chow Foon (not as good, but it comes with their excellent Hot and sour soup and chicken wings.)

                                                              We got the SSC with ginger and scallion (as opposed to spicy salt fried) and I would definitely suggest trying it. It's fried the same, but comes with a brown sauce with fried ginger and scallions. The sauce really makes a huge difference IMO.

                                                              The fish we got was cod, which you may have there. It's hard to tell as I can't get a good read on the size or see the face of the fish. But they do cod a lot there unless you have enough people for a (striped?) bass, which they seem to carry only on the larger side.

                                                              1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                Cod! That makes perfect sense. My wife and I thought the waitress was saying "crawfish", but she must've been saying "cod fish". I'll definitely try the simpler ginger/scallion SSC.

                                                            2. Yesterday I got 2 beauties -- slightly small, but excellent quality -- at The Fishmonger in Huron Village. I pan-sauteed them, and had made an openface SSC & avocado sandwich on an olive roll from Formaggio. Delicious.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                                1. re: okra

                                                                  Oh, yes! Sorry, I meant to include that. $5 per.

                                                                  1. re: litchick

                                                                    ...and as an update: for the exact same price, I got a sad little SSC that had been cleaned that morning (as opposed to on the spot) from Whole Foods. I wouldn't have even bought the thing except now that the season has started, I can't remotely think straight. I just want SSC at every meal.

                                                                    1. re: litchick

                                                                      Last saturday, I purchased a whale @ Wulf's for $6, cleaned on the spot. It was excellent, as were the oysters I got as well (Malpeques and Bluepoints.) I realize Wulf's doesn't get talked about much on this board, anyone with any opinions?

                                                              1. They have soft shell crabs at Roche Brothers for $2.99 each

                                                                1. Roche Brothers in West Roxbury (which gets its fish from Foley's) had soft shell crabs at its fish counter last week.

                                                                  1. I had some awesome salt & pepper fried SSC at Bubor Cha Cha, the Malaysian place on Beach Street in Chinatown. Big, plump, juicy, expertly fried chunks - easily as good as any I've had at Peach Farm. They had a special for $12.95.

                                                                    As quirky as this place is, they do have some terrific dishes like the above, and their chicken curry - a rich, dark, coconut milk preparation - is fantastic, as well.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Bubor Cha Cha
                                                                    45 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                    21 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Prav

                                                                      BCC SSC easily as good as as any you've had at PFS, or SSC ?

                                                                      Glad to hear the CCC was also tasty.

                                                                      1. re: Prav

                                                                        Holy cow, that's cheap! My spicy soft shell dish at Peach farm was twenty nine bucks. With the whole cod, beef chow fun and a couple of Tsingdaos, the tab was $68. By far the most I've ever spent on a Chinese meal for two. I'll do it again, though.

                                                                        1. re: crowdingthepan

                                                                          that's odd-- i thought they normally charge $20 for ss crab at Peach Farm?

                                                                            1. re: 9lives

                                                                              Hmmm. I guess I got the rube treatment. I'm planning a return trip to be taken advantage of again. Deliciously unfair.

                                                                              1. re: crowdingthepan

                                                                                There's a disclaimer on the Peach Farm that menu says they charge market price when soft shell crabs are in season. The price printed on the menu refers to the price for the frozen SSCs they serve year-round. That being said, I've been overcharged for vegetable pan fried noodles at Peach Farm and had to ask to get the price corrected on the bill. So, best to check their math before paying.

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                                                                                Peach Farm
                                                                                4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                          1. re: crowdingthepan

                                                                            CTP, I've gotten soft shell crabs at Peach Farm twice this month and it was $19 each time. The $29 charge you got was probably the fish. (The fish we got was about the same price too, and they charge you per pound.)

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Peach Farm
                                                                            4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                              1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                                That makes perfect sense. I assumed that the most seasonal item was also the most expensive.

                                                                                1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                                  ty et al, after reading your CH comments, we may go for these there. we've never been to PFarm (gasp!) though i always remember it as the one and only Chtown restnt recommended to me by Wilson,one of the owners of SunSun. Is it 2 in the $19 order? What other favs do you have there?( i saw the photos of the sscrabs and read of the 2 versions; and the curry chicken; and i love wet beef and broccoli chow foon .) I'll do a CH search but also just wanted to ask here, as the most current thread. thanks much.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Peach Farm
                                                                                  4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                    The dry fry beef chowfoon, pea leaf, and fish tank fish steamed with ginger scallion are dishes that I like. I think the salt and peper squid are good if you aren't getting the sscrab.

                                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                      It's 2 SSCs per order. Although because they are cut up into pieces and then fried, there is no way to know for sure short of trying to piece the crabs back together. Sidenote: I do feel like some Chinese places try to short you when you order twin lobsters, but it's so hard to prove. However I've never felt like that at Peach Farm.

                                                                                      lc02139 has some great suggestions. I also like steamed scallop on the shell with garlic and vermicelli noodles. (Off the menu, but a popular dish. ~$2.50 a piece.) Pretty much all the seafood is good, clams in black bean sauce and the aforementioned lobster are great.

                                                                                      If you go M-F for lunch, I love the lunch specials. Nothing you haven't had before, but great value. Egg drop or Hot and sour soup (Their hot and sour is my favorite), a side (Chicken wings are always great), White or fried rice, and a dish (American Chinese) for less than $6. Not exactly Chowish dishes, but certainly chowish Value.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Peach Farm
                                                                                      4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                                2. re: Prav

                                                                                  Courthouse is doing their $7.95 SSC sandwich. One SSC breaded with their normal fry mix (but fairly thin), deep fried and served on a roll with lettuce & tomato, forgettable fries, and tartar sauce provided. Mine was plump, well fried, fries a bit better than in the recent past. Instead of the lettuce/tomato I should have gone next door to the market to buy a pickled pepper to have them add, but was in a bit of a rush. Only regret I didn't get some smelts or mackrel too, but that would have been too much food.

                                                                                  1. re: itaunas

                                                                                    Dang! I'm overdue for sac sanders at Courthouse. I hope to get there asap! Are you staying long? Lets eat. Shoot me a note!

                                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                                      Just to map two mentioned places I am unfamiliar with.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Court House Seafood Restaurant
                                                                                      498 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA

                                                                                      The Fishmonger
                                                                                      252 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                                                    2. re: itaunas

                                                                                      One oddity yesterday was it was served on a seeded hamburger bun, whereas I've always had it on a bulkie there before but I think that was an end of the day substitution and didn't diminsh the sandwich. They toast their rolls and buns under the broiler.

                                                                                    3. re: Prav

                                                                                      i tried the SSC at Bubor. Price was still 12.95 but the ones they gave me weren't as plump and meaty as the ones you got apparently. Maybe they're better towards the weekend? i'll stick with PF for now ;) I did enjoy the dry chicken curry (I wonder whether they can do the same sauce with, say, potatoes or cauliflower?)

                                                                                      1. re: barleywino

                                                                                        I would recommend checking out the SSC po boy at Strip T's in Watertown too....

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Strip-T's Restaurant
                                                                                        93 School St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                                                                          1. re: barleywino

                                                                                            Do call first, though, as I've only seen them on the Specials blackboard that changes daily.

                                                                                            1. re: Taralli

                                                                                              Strip T's posts daily specials on its Facebook page. They're usually up by mid-morning. They only make the sandwiches at lunch and there's a SS crab special for dinner. I called and asked and they won't make the sandwiches at dinner.