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Soft-shell crabs in the Triangle

Yesterday, I got excited when I saw a sign in the window of Fishmonger's in Durham announcing that they had soft-shell crabs. I went in, but went right back out the door when I saw the price: $26.95 for two sauteed crabs. Is that what I can expect to pay for soft-shell crabs in this area? Are there other places that might have them, especially at a cheaper price?

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  1. Dressed at 4.50 - 5.50 depending on the size here:


    2 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      When I first read your post I assumed Fishmonger = a fresh seafood market.

      If the price you mentioned was for a sit-down meal then it seems reasonable. Old rule of thumb is multiply food costs by 3 in restaurant pricing for a quick guesstimate.

      1. re: meatn3

        Didn't know about this service. Thanks for the link.

      2. They have them at Crook's Corner in Chapel HIll (call to make sure they have for that day - sometimes they run out). I believe they're 24.95 for two fried crabs with 2 slaws. Very good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jeanne

          yes, I went with friends at they raved over the crabs at Crook's Corner. Otherwise, buy them at Weaver St. 2 crabs for $9 & change and cook them yourself.

        2. Just called Blu Seafood in Durham out of curiosity - they had them last night, will have them tonight and tomorrow night. They're the jumbo ones - 5 1/2-6" in diameter. I think he said $14.50 for one - $32.50 for a dinner of two, baked cheese grits and green beans. At this point I'd splurge if they looked good enough - I LOVE soft shell crabs. I have family in the east that live on the Pamlico River - used to be able to buy a dozen easily. My sister's suppliers seemed to have stopped.

          1. I Love softshell crabs, but really dislike the heavy breading I've found on most preparations down here. I usually ask if the chef will make them naked for me in just some butter, maybe a little garlic, and most of the time they say no. But someplace recently did it for me - I believe it was Elaine's, they were superb.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              We have been eating soft shells weekly since they came in season from Tom Robinson's and/or Weaver Street via Core Sound Seafood. They are starting to tail off. We observed that they peaked a few weeks ago. Soft shells are Mrs. From Raliegh's favorite protein, so we will eat them until the season is done.
              We love them off the grill with salt, pepper, and whatever spices strike my fancy. $5 a piece is what I'd expect to pay for a medium size softie in a store. As in most things, size matters. It's lpossible the restaurants are buying larger softies, which are more expensive, and they'd pass along the higher expense.
              Get them while you can, the season will be over soon. I think deep frying covers up their natural flavoring. I had a wonderful sautéed softie dish with spinach and pine nuts many years ago.

              1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                I totally agree about the deep frying, but we seem to be in the minority around here. I think their natural flavor comes out wonderfully grilled or very simply sauteed.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  I was just at Capital Seafood on Lake Wheeler Road across from the Farmer's Market. I was picking up 15#s of mud bugs for our Annual Crayfish boil. On the other end of the counter they had live crabs. They are back in season.

                  (Just a thought- I had to call in advance to reserve the mudbugs)

            2. Thanks for all the suggestions!

              1. I haven't had my softshell fix yet this spring. Anyone know who has them right now in the Durham area?

                7 Replies
                1. re: ToothTooth

                  I've had them at Elaine's in Chapel Hill, and someone else mentioned having seen them somewhere else. Haven't seen them at a grocery yet. I'd be interested in the info too.

                    1. re: ToothTooth

                      I was at The Federal last week and they had one dinner special highlighting them.

                      For Raleigh folks, Salt Water Seafood had them available last week, $5.59 each iirc.

                      1. re: ToothTooth

                        I had a pair of jumbos at Kitchen in Chapel Hill last week. They were fantastic and came with roasted fingerling potatoes and green beans. Strangely they were the same price as those mentioned in the original posting on this thread (2 years old.) And by the way, lulusmom, they were pretty much naked except for butter and sliced almonds.

                        1. re: omoshiroi

                          I'm shocked and thrilled that you remember how I like them! Thank you so much ... I may well be Kitchen bound this evening.

                          1. re: omoshiroi

                            Thanks to omoshiroi I went to Kitchen last night and had the delicious soft shells. Thanks for the tip.

                        2. Core Sound Seafood, a CSF, has had soft shells available as an add-on lately. Non-shareholders can order the weekly specials or a half/whole share. Triangle pick-up locations are in Raleigh, Durham, CH & Carrboro. They also deliver to Boone and are just starting periodic deliver to Winston-Salem iirc.

                          Special orders can be made Friday through Monday on-line.


                          6 Replies
                          1. re: meatn3

                            Tom Robinson's Seafood in Carrboro has softies. We've already had them once or twice. They also show up at Weaver Street Market.

                            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                              Thanks, everyone. If anybody catches wind of Vin Rouge doing soft shells, please let me know. The soft shells I had there last year were the best rendition I had in all of last year.

                              1. re: ToothTooth

                                For anyone else looking, Crook's has soft shells listed on their current online menu.

                                1. re: ToothTooth

                                  It has been 10 years now, but the one time I had soft shells at Crooks they were horrible, overly battered and overly friend things. I shudder to think about them. I hope they're better now.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Haven't had any this year, but last year had fantastic softshells at Elements - flash fried with almost a tempura-type batter and served with an Asian "remoulade."

                                  2. re: ToothTooth

                                    I've had excellent soft shells at Crooks! Missed them last year but will make it this year!