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Where can I buy FRESH soft shells?

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and also fresh bluefish (whole)?

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  1. Maine Avenue if you're in DC

    2 Replies
    1. re: Teddybear

      Thx but unfortunately too far from DC in Baltimore county

      1. re: dmatous

        Try Franks in Jessup

    2. Conrad's Crabs had soft shells this weekend, don't remember bluefish, but could have missed it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foster

        Oh gosh... Will have to see if they have them tomorrow! Thx for the lead!

      2. Maine St Wharf - Captaim Whites Stall they have soft shells for $4 per if you ask they will clean them. If you go Mon-Thursday make sure they get the fish from the back for freshness

        1. Whole Foods gets them in a few days a week.

          1. A little closer than DC, but still not close - in MoCo, the fish truck at the Kensington Farmers Market (Saturdays 8-12) has it.

            1. Last year I bought soft shells from the Sunday JFX market. The vendor should be showing up any week now. (I wasn't there last week, so maybe he's already there.)

              5 Replies
              1. re: bmorecupcake

                He was there last week selling decent sized soft shells, 2 for $9.

                1. re: gregb

                  The soft shells at JFX were $5 and $6 today, depending on size. He said the season was especially bad this year -- worst in recent memory -- hence the high prices. I'm glad I experimented last year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847695

                  1. re: bmorecupcake

                    So how did you make out last year??

                    1. re: Hue

                      Where to start? First, thanks a lot for your help last year.

                      I can get very good results with smaller soft shells: crispy exterior, cooked through but not overcooked. The larger ones I still can't get quite right. In the latter case, I must sacrifice one of the three: crispy exterior, cooked through, or not overcooked.

                      I was a little thrown off when you wrote to saute 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on size. Even for a large soft shell, the heat setting require to crisp up the shell would easily overcook the crab in 14 minutes, with or without a loosely covered pan. Then I thought maybe you define "saute" and "fry" to mean lower and higher heat settings, respectively. At a lower heat setting, 14 minutes wouldn't overcook the crab, but the shells never crisped up and loosely covering the pan would turn the flour dredge soggy. Then I figured you probably just winged the time estimates, so I increased the heat back up and reduced the times.

                      With a smaller soft shell, I cook uncovered and by the time the shell has crisped up, the interior is cooked through and I'm good to go. I first experimented only with smaller soft shells and my issues then were that my heat wasn't high enough, as a result I was overcooking the crab while waiting for the shell to crisp, and I wasn't using enough fat so the flour dredge in some nooks and crannies would still be rawish.

                      I'm still undecided on if the soft shell goes in bottom first or top first. Bottom first, I get more crispness because the bottom is flatter (more contact with pan), but the flour on the top starts to steam and clump a little even if the pan is uncovered. Top first, some flour will fall off into the fat, I will have less surface making good contact with the pan, and I will sacrifice some crispness on the bottom due to steamed/clumpy flour, but I feel crispness is more important on the top than the bottom. I don't believe I'm over-dredging. I'll go no dredge every once in a while.

                      With a larger soft shell, if I cook uncovered, the shell crisps before the inside is cooked through. I'm okay with that, but I'm not comfortable serving "raw" soft shells to others. So what I do is crisp one side loosely covered, then flip and crisp the other side uncovered. The shell isn't as crisp as I would like and the flour coating can be soggy in places, but nothing a veteran can't handle.

                      1. re: bmorecupcake

                        Interesting. I wonder if this is a place for first cooking at high temps, then finishing at lower (or vice versa, I've never tried to cook softshells.)

              2. Thanks for all your comments! I found fresh soft shells at Conrads Crabs - 4 different sizes-the largest, whales, were $8 each.

                5 Replies
                1. re: dmatous

                  So when's lunch or dinner??

                  1. re: Hue

                    :)

                  2. re: dmatous

                    The sound you are hearing is me gasping at $8/softshell .... yikes!!! Any the thing I realize is that Conrad's is not really an overly expensive outlet iMHO.

                    1. re: jck

                      Keep in mind whales were the largest so hence the lofty price tag - they had 3 other smaller sizes with asscoiated lower prices depending on the size.

                      1. re: dmatous

                        An awful lot of work goes into producing soft shells for sale -- I'm surprised they're not more expensive.

                  3. I just picked up a couple soft shelled crabs at Whole Foods this afternoon. They get them in twice a week usually Tuesday and Friday for anyone who is interested. I am new to soft shells, how long is the season usually?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      crab shed periodically

                      1. re: Teddybear

                        Right, I wasn't sure if it's a once a few months occurrence or more often.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          They are farmed, also, which I think was intended in Teddybear's earlier remark upthread.

                          The farming I've seen is done indoors so they control lighting and temps, etc., to mirror natural cycles.

                    2. went to the food truck gathering at mchenry row, tonight. charm city gourmet had a delicious soft crab sandwich. and it couldn't have been fresher- it was still alive until the sandwich was ordered. the crab was of good size, it covered the entire roll. $12