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First Soft Shell Crabs Sighting

9lives Apr 5, 2012 10:40 AM

Mercato de Mare in the NE has them and Peach Farm is also making them.

  1. c
    Capeannetoo Apr 5, 2012 11:50 AM

    Saw them at Savenor's in Cambridge.

    1. l
      LeoLioness Apr 6, 2012 12:20 PM

      Highland Kitchen has them as a special tonight.

      1. Alcachofa Apr 6, 2012 12:30 PM

        Wow, early isn't it?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Alcachofa
          9lives Apr 6, 2012 01:21 PM

          Yes, warmer than usual water on the East Coast this season has caused the crabs to molt earlier than the past few years.

          1. re: 9lives
            CapeCodGuy Apr 6, 2012 01:51 PM

            Yes...isn't global warming delicious? MMMMmmmmmmm!

        2. BostonZest Apr 7, 2012 06:32 AM

          I had one of the best soft shell dishes yet at Coppa yesterday. It was tempura fried on a bed of spicy mixed beans. It sounds like it wouldn't work but it was Coppa so I put my faith in the kitchen and was rewarded with a dish I'll long remember. It was a special.


          1. t
            The Chemist Apr 7, 2012 06:34 AM

            What's a good way to cook these? I am guessing battered and deep fried but is there a more home kitchen friendly approach?

            10 Replies
            1. re: The Chemist
              ScotchandSirloin Apr 7, 2012 06:51 AM

              pan, butter, shallots, parley, salt, pepper, all you need, and better than deep fried IMHO.

              1. re: ScotchandSirloin
                cambridgedoctpr Apr 7, 2012 07:23 AM

                i like to drown them in buttermilk before dusting and stir frying. I prefer frying in olive oil though butter is fine, too.

                early soft shell crabs are usually from the south and not from maryland fyi.

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                  9lives Apr 7, 2012 07:37 AM

                  I use olive oil when I want to be a little healthier. I find it works fine.

                  Because of the warmer water, SC's ssc season has come and gone. The big producers are on the Chesapeake, and if we're getting them now, I imagine that's where they are from.

                  I've had early SSC in Hilton Head, SC. it's about a 10 day season and the crabs are all sold locally..just not a large enough harvest to ship North.

              2. re: The Chemist
                9lives Apr 7, 2012 06:59 AM

                Dust with flour,,pan fried in butter/garlic. I rarely deep fry at home. Enjoy! If you want to do a litle more, deglaze the pan with a white wine and you have the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges. I did mine with a Latin twist.....dusted with fine ground chipotle and fresh cilantro garnish.

                1. re: 9lives
                  The Chemist Apr 7, 2012 07:12 AM

                  Thanks to both of you. I know what I am having for dinner.

                2. re: The Chemist
                  opinionatedchef Apr 8, 2012 01:24 AM

                  THE Virginia tradition: Cut out the eyes, dredge crabs in flour, s and p; saute in butter a few minutes each side. Serve with lots of lemon. The flavor is so delicate; deep frying masks its glory. Other info: the softer their skins, the more recently they molted. The apron (belly area) shell shape>> wide pyramid-like means female; long and skinny means male. Females are fatter in general.

                  p.s.* Stand back when frying because lots of moisture in these guys and that can cause the hot butter to pop at you.

                  1. re: The Chemist
                    devilham May 15, 2012 10:13 AM

                    I cooked some up this weekend, dirt cheap at whole foods.....I soaked them in buttermilk and some seasoning, then coated them with semolina flour and deep fried them. These guys were small and only took a minute or two to finish, FYI

                    1. re: devilham
                      galleygirl May 15, 2012 11:59 AM

                      I was wondering about those...Since they came in already cleaned (dead), how fresh did they taste?

                      1. re: galleygirl
                        emannths May 15, 2012 12:02 PM

                        We had a few for dinner last night--hard to pass up at $3/each. They were meh--tiny (natch) and unusually...strong(?) tasting. I'd take the live ones from Courthouse/New Deal even at the premium price.

                        1. re: emannths
                          devilham May 15, 2012 01:53 PM

                          Have to agree with emannths about the strong flavor (and tiny size), but semolina added a nice crunchy coating, and they weren't off or anything, just a strong flavor when you got to the center of the crab (belly area). Two of them over an arugala and radish salad was pretty solid if you ask me.

                  2. t
                    The Chemist Apr 7, 2012 01:54 PM

                    Found some at Alive and Kicking in Cambridge today.

                    1. s
                      soopersizeme Apr 8, 2012 07:34 AM

                      Via Matta had them last week-delicious!!!!!!!!!!

                      1. kobuta Apr 8, 2012 09:56 AM

                        Courthouse Seafood had a sign they have them for sale, but didn't stop in. I went to New Deal instead - no soft shell crabs yet.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: kobuta
                          emannths May 3, 2012 05:23 PM

                          $7 whales at New Deal yesterday.

                          1. re: emannths
                            opinionatedchef May 3, 2012 09:03 PM

                            GREAT news; we'll hustle on over,so thx V much!

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              opinionatedchef May 4, 2012 06:04 PM

                              had to go to Joe because I've been a Courthouse customer some 30 yrs. Got whales at $6 @ today.emm, thx again.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                emannths May 5, 2012 04:44 AM

                                Np. My general observation has been that Courthouse is often $0.50-$1 cheaper for soft shell crabs, but with the variable sizes and change in prices during the season, it's hard for me to tell if that observation is accurate.

                        2. v
                          verka Apr 17, 2012 11:00 AM

                          Just wanted to bump this back up.
                          Anyone have any more recent experiences with sof shell crab around town? Would love some recomendations...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: verka
                            cambridgedoctpr Apr 17, 2012 11:52 AM

                            i can add Alive and Kicking; they are great guys. I also spoke to the people at New Deal who said that they should have them in the near future.

                            I have already recommended using a buttermild marinade.

                            1. re: verka
                              ScotchandSirloin Apr 17, 2012 01:16 PM

                              I always think Locke-Ober has the best soft shells in the city. Not sure if they have them yet, but that is definitely where I will be getting my fill this spring.

                            2. ScubaSteve Apr 18, 2012 04:01 PM

                              ESK has them tonight-

                              1. opinionatedchef May 3, 2012 01:39 PM

                                Though i disgree with him on grilling (too easy to burn)this seems like a really good Bittman article on diff ways of preparing soft shells:


                                1. s
                                  ScotchandSirloin May 10, 2012 06:13 PM

                                  The good news is that I made it over to Locke-Ober for my first soft-shell of the season. The terrible news is that the soft shell crabs à la meunière that I have loved forever as one of the greatest dishes in Boston appear to be no more. While the menu boasts soft shell crabs à la meunière, the buttery sauteed beauties of years past arrived with a tempura-like breading that covered up any hint of à la meunièrey goodness with your generic deep fried crunchiness that can be found at any number of restaurants in any city. On the bright side, the crabs were huge, but I don't think I'll be going back for my many May and June excursions to Locke-Ober given that my favorite dish is no more. I was told by the waiters that they have a new chef, anyone know were the former chef/soft-shell cooking god went?

                                  1. a
                                    AGM_Cape_Cod May 11, 2012 05:19 AM

                                    We will be spending the weekend of May 19th in Cambridge. Too late for soft shells? Any suggestions for a place for Saturday lunch? TIA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                                      emannths May 11, 2012 06:46 AM

                                      If you don't mind getting to East Cambridge and don't mind the lack of ambiance, I'm sure that the adjacent restaurant to Courthouse Fish Market would happily fry some up for you, and for an unbeatable price probably.

                                      Mid-May is not too late, btw.

                                    2. h
                                      heypielady May 11, 2012 10:09 AM

                                      I bought two soft shell crabs last night at New Deal and had them clean them but I was going to cook them tonight. Was that a mistake? Anyone know if the crabs are ok to eat?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: heypielady
                                        9lives May 11, 2012 10:21 AM

                                        As long as they were stored in the fridge or on ice, they should be fine. Room temp..No

                                        1. re: heypielady
                                          cambridgedoctpr Jun 7, 2012 10:26 AM

                                          i think that it would be best to keep them alive until just prior to eating; the taste begins to degrade once they have joined the choir invisible. But they will be ok to keep in the refir for a day.

                                        2. s
                                          somerville01 May 12, 2012 06:06 PM

                                          Abigail's in Kendall Sq have run several Soft Shell specials lately.

                                          1. digga May 12, 2012 06:55 PM

                                            I saw them today for $2.99 each at the Medford Whole Foods.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: digga
                                              emannths May 14, 2012 06:29 AM

                                              Looks like that price is good through tomorrow (tues).

                                              1. re: emannths
                                                opinionatedchef May 15, 2012 02:52 PM

                                                i called and they are primes- 2.5 ounces for $3 sale
                                                courthouse had whales, 4.5 ou at $6

                                                more good info i just found:

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                  okra May 15, 2012 05:51 PM

                                                  I don't know about you, but - I've been buying, preparing, and cooking my seafood for a lot of years.

                                                  I went to Whole Foods in Newton today, and there's a boatload of dead soft shell crabs on ice. Looking.. shrugs - not great.

                                                  I want my crabs kicking and screaming, until the moment I decide to dispatch them and prepare them for dinner.

                                                  I voted with my feet, leaving empty handed. How do I know how long they've been "dressed" (their term, not mine)??

                                                  1. re: okra
                                                    opinionatedchef May 15, 2012 09:45 PM

                                                    your vote makes perfect sense to me.

                                            2. s
                                              Snowflake May 15, 2012 07:26 AM

                                              The soft shell crab was so good at Scampo that I will have a hard time restraining myself from going back every night from now until the end of the season.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Snowflake
                                                ScotchandSirloin May 15, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                How is it prepared? Deep fried or sautéed?

                                                1. re: ScotchandSirloin
                                                  Snowflake May 15, 2012 07:53 AM

                                                  I believe it was sauteed but I could be wrong. The menu says 'crisped soft shell crab w/ white almond romesco, radishes & bitter orange'.

                                              2. okra Jun 6, 2012 01:54 PM

                                                OK, I just don't get this... Another seafood market nearby me has sent out their weekly specials email offering "Cleaned Soft Shell Crabs".

                                                Now, why would they do that?
                                                They certainly wouldn't turn off the aerator in the lobster tanks, so that they all die, then arrange their limp corpses on ice, would they? Why do it with these crabs?

                                                This is New England, dammit! We know how to deal with fresh seafood! Give us our crabs live kicking and screaming!!!!

                                                And they wonder why I won't be in there to buy them....

                                                FWIW, Roche Bros is selling live ones, small, but at a decent price and good for a po-boy....

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: okra
                                                  ipsofatso Jun 6, 2012 06:25 PM

                                                  I'll take mine dressed and iced, thank you.

                                                  1. re: ipsofatso
                                                    okra Jun 7, 2012 06:25 AM

                                                    And any self respecting fish monger would/should be more than happy to clean and dress your crabs, making certain that you get only the freshest possible ingredient for your meal and making you a very happy customer, willing to bring your $$ back over and over.

                                                    But crabs that've been cleaned have an extremely short shelf life - with little to no space for the "Sell By" stickers telling me how long they've been in this state. In my case, I don't buy from them.

                                                    1. re: okra
                                                      StriperGuy Jun 7, 2012 07:17 AM

                                                      Yah dressed soft shells have a shelf life that can be measured in hours, NOT days.

                                                2. MC Slim JB Jun 6, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                  Saw a crate of live ones being carried in the direction of No. 9 Park this morning.


                                                  1. r
                                                    rozziegirl May 15, 2013 12:06 PM

                                                    Bumping this up. Is the 2013 soft shell season here yet?

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: rozziegirl
                                                      itaunas May 15, 2013 12:23 PM

                                                      Courthouse seafood had the SSC sandwich on their restaurant specials board today, but I didn't check the market and didn't see it on New Deal's handwritten signs. Those might be Carolina crabs which I don't believe New Deal carries but am just speculating.

                                                      1. re: rozziegirl
                                                        gourmaniac May 15, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                        I had soft shell crab and bacon sliders ($10) for the Wed night Baconpalooza (May). They said they were fresh not frozen. Tasty enough but not a lot of taste next to the bacon.

                                                        1. re: rozziegirl
                                                          opinionatedchef May 15, 2013 07:42 PM

                                                          Fresh Pond Seafood in Arlington had them today, $7@.

                                                        2. C. Hamster May 15, 2013 08:29 PM

                                                          Tavolo has them as an app special

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