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First Soft Shell Crabs Sighting

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

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  1. Saw them at Savenor's in Cambridge.

    1. Highland Kitchen has them as a special tonight.

        1. re: Alcachofa

          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

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

        2. 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. 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

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

              1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                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

                  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

                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

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

                2. re: The Chemist

                  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

                    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

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

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        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

                          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. Found some at Alive and Kicking in Cambridge today.

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

                      1. 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

                          $7 whales at New Deal yesterday.

                          1. re: emannths

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

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              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

                                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. 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

                            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

                              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.

                              1. 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. 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. 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

                                      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. 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

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

                                        1. re: heypielady

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

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

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: digga

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

                                              1. re: emannths

                                                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

                                                  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

                                                    your vote makes perfect sense to me.

                                            2. 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

                                                How is it prepared? Deep fried or sautéed?

                                                1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                                                  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. 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

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

                                                  1. re: ipsofatso

                                                    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

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

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


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

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: rozziegirl

                                                      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

                                                        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

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

                                                        2. Tavolo has them as an app special

                                                          1. Thought I would bump this thread since New Deal fb says they got whale soft shell crabs in yesterday so the 2014 season is on!!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: lc02139

                                                              yeah, i saw them at burlington h-mart last week.

                                                                1. re: lc02139

                                                                  Roche brothers circular is advertising $4 soft shell crabs for the week of 6/6/14.

                                                                  1. re: lc02139

                                                                    Ooh, thanks for the Roche Bros info!

                                                                    1. re: frond

                                                                      Same price this week (week ending 6/5). As you might expect for that price, they're not big, but the ones in the case yesterday were still somewhat alive.

                                                                2. had a really good version of salt and pepper soft shell crabs at Bubor Cha Cha recently.. superb fry job

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: 9lives

                                                                    Inspired by your post I just had the softshell crabs at BC myself with my brother is in town for a conference excellent stuff.

                                                                  2. Had great ones at Met Bar this weekend!