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I only had fried soft shells once at Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City, NC. There is a big charter boat fishing business there, and that's why I was there. It's right on the water, and has been there since 1938. You see out the windows at dusk the fishing boats coming into port with the charters having all the catch hung up for people to see. The commercial boats keep the catch chilled, as it should be, but this is a big charter fishing port, so you get a big parade of boats showing off the catch in our hot and humid air, so as to get more charter customers. When I tried the Sanitary, it was in the late 80's and it was better than it is now. I just ordered the wrong thing. I was curious and didn't understand the season for live soft shells. I'm sure I would not have agreed to go out on a charter fishing boat in April or even May. It had to be further into summer.
My one example must have been frozen and it seemed to have spent too much time regrowing its shell. It made me very sad I ordered it, because my dining companions' food looked good.
They did bring in a spiny lobster that night from one of the fishing boats that sold it to the restaurant and they have an aquarium for such purchases. This thing was as long as my whole arm! It had no claws like the Maine kind, but I still wish I'd ordered that instead of soft shells. Who knows how much it would've cost, though.
A question for those who have had good soft shells: Do they typically not have a chitinous shell to try to deal with/chew through?
Oxtail Mole de Olla with Taquitos:
Intended for last night, but the oxtails needed more braising than we had time for.
Fast forward to tonight, with an extra few hours of cooking and all was well. The taquitos (cheese, onion cilantro) made for a nice, crunchy edible utensil.
My recent Danish pastry project reminded me that I really love making laminated doughs - almost as much as I love eating them. This week’s project: croissants and pain au chocolat with Joe Pastry’s recipe: