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Mayhaw Man

Soft Shell Crab

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[i do-look at my above response (which I have conveniently attached to this in order to keep you from tiring yourself out with all of the pesky scrolling :wink: )

Missed that on first scrolling. My bad.

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Dredged in flour seasoned with Cajun spice, sauteed in clarified butter and topped with a little creole meuniere sauce.........heavenly!

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[i do-look at my above response (which I have conveniently attached to this in order to keep you from tiring yourself out with all of the pesky scrolling :wink: )

Missed that on first scrolling. My bad.

Actually - I have had 'em, and loved 'em, fried, grilled, sandwiched, un-, dry-fried, stir-fried with asparagus and garlic sauce, etc... and it's hard to say how I like 'em best - but I'm just realizing I've never given any real thought to cooking them, because I don't think I've ever had more than one at a time to play with, and when you're throwing a dozen or so crabs into the pot you kind of don't bother with special treatment for one little shedder. This is wrong, of course, and I promise I shall mend my ways this season - but there's no hiding from the ugly truth: my perspective on this has always been a bit skewed. I've never actually bought crabs, so what I cook is what I get. This is also why I don't try things like she-crab soup - we do get females sometimes, but if they're small or gravid we throw them back. The catch is that the catch is the catch. :huh: Or something like that.

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I can't believe there have been 20 replies and no one else grills them.

I clean them, marinate in XVOO, garlic, and a small amount of lemon.  Sprinkly wiht Old Bay, slap 'em on the grill.  Then I serve them in grilled sandwich buns with a homemade remoulade.

That's exactly how MIL makes them, minus the remoulade.

She used to flour and fry them, but then FIL went on a diet, so she did some experimenting w/lower fat ways to cook them. I like them both ways.

They have a smoker, so I'll mention that this year.


Edited by JennotJenn (log)

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Being a Delaware resident I make it a point to enjoy softshell crabs as often as possible.

Although I believe it is not the traditional means of preparation a local seafood restaurant serves them sauteed (with no flour or batter) in butter with a hollandaise sauce, I find this to taste incredible.

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There were beautiful soft shells in the market on Saturday! Inspired by this thread, I gave the crabs an egg and Crystal sauce wash, dipped in spicy flour and pan fried, then served them for lunch with a curry lemon mayonaise. And we got to sit outside!

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I am insanely jealous of all of you who have such access to these beauties. Last year I had the luck of finding them one week at a local market (I live in Columbus, Ohio) and snatched up as many as I thought I could eat. I did them just in a little flour and pan fried, and deep fried with a batter then on some french bread. Loved it both ways. If I find them this year, I have to try grilled. Luckily my dad (parents, I still live at home, I'm 21 and still at college) was grossed out by the entire concept of them, so my mother and I relished twisting their little legs off and eating the entire thing in front of him.

Shannon

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I am insanely jealous of all of you who have such access to these beauties. Last year I had the luck of finding them one week at a local market (I live in Columbus, Ohio) and snatched up as many as I thought I could eat. I did them just in a little flour and pan fried, and deep fried with a batter then on some french bread. Loved it both ways. If I find them this year, I have to try grilled. Luckily my dad (parents, I still live at home, I'm 21 and still at college) was grossed out by the entire concept of them, so my mother and I relished twisting their little legs off and eating the entire thing in front of him.

Shannon

Ahhh. but you have Skyline Chili.... Perhaps we can barter some crabs for that wonderful substance...

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I use and egg wash and some heavily pepperred Wondra, then sautee in butter/evoo mix, remove the crabs and finish off with a touch of wine, lotsa lemon and maybe a dab or two more of butter...some capers if they are around, sprinkle of parsley.

I've also grilled them from a simple garlicky marinade.

I eat them all season..I have never cleaned them. I cook them a few hours after they are cleaned. If for some reason I don't want to saute them, or have extra and they need to be used that day, I use a tempura mix from an envelope, and have them the next day in a Kim version of a spider roll.

They rarely go under $3 each, even at the peak of the season, here in NJ. Most of the season they are $5 each, and not real big.


Edited by Kim WB (log)

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Is there a noticeable difference between busters and longer-out-of-the-shell soft shell crabs? If so, can you order one at a restaurant? Forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but I have always been curious about busters.

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We had them today at Smiley's -- used to be a good restaurant, now it's trying to be, but the crabs were great! My co-worker ordered it thinking it was all shelled and in a patti -- oh, little did she know. She was hungry, and that was a good thing, so we had her eat the claws first. She gave in and ate the whole thing, but not without whining. In the end, it was worthe it :) (And another one bit the dust.)

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NulloModo-

Did you know that they sell Skyline Chili canned in the store and at Sam's Club? I will admit that Skyline is the only fast-food chain I have visited in the past year, however I would gladly trade you that for fresh soft shell crab any day.

Shannon

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going to resurrect this. i know its a little late in the season, but i have fresh softshell's today that i'd like to pan-fry up (trying to immitate a wonderful soft shell sandwich at once had at the farmer's market in SF). I'm getting a good sense of how to actually cook them but am a little lost on the cleaning process. if i missed the post, please let me know. if not, tips/procedure would be appreciated.

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Late in the season? My fish guys got their first of the season last week. Granted they said they held off on the initial purchase, as the first offer they got was at $57/doz wholesale.

They'd obviously dropped significantly below that price, as they were going at $4/each retail, and were delicious dredged in seasoned flour and sauteed in butter.

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Late in the season?  My fish guys got their first of the season last week.  Granted they said they held off on the initial purchase, as the first offer they got was at $57/doz wholesale. 

for some reason i thougth the season started in april...i may be totally off on that. bought mine for $4/each. i was acutally just informed that the cleaning process is basically just removing the head...this right?

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As for cleaning and prep, you snip off the very front part of the shell so as to cut a straight line just behind the eyes. Then you lift up the point of the shell on each side and remove the gills and they are ready.

Cheers,

HC

Edited to add: Remove the little flap that extends from the rear towards the front in the center on the underside of the shell as well.


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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They are just becoming available now.  It's actually good to soak the crabs in milk, dry them off and lightly dredge in flour.  Then saute in a hot pan with oil.  Heads up though, those soft shells POP and will send that hot oil in the direction of your forearms.

David Rosengarten (sp?) suggests, partly to fix this but primarily for the final texture, that you saute them under a substantial weight. I've had pretty good luck with this technique (using a cast iron pan on top): dry crabs, seasoned flour, about 3 min. a side under the weight. If I'm making a sandwich, I tend to panko them and drop them in the fryer.

Andrew

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i was planning on doing sandwiches but dont have a fryer so was just going to pan fry. does the milk soak make a big difference in the end result for this? think its worth it?

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I say make it easy on yourself. Dredge them in seasoned flour (add salt and pepper to flour), or wondra if you have it. Get grapeseed oil smoking hot in a heavy pan and throw the guys in shell-side down. A minute or so later, flip them. Turn your heat down and add butter. Brown the butter, don't burn it. Pull the crabs about a minute or so later. Squeeze half a lemon in the pan to deglaze and pour that over the crabs on the plate.

Lots of people like to actually bread the crabs. I think it takes away from the flavor. Also it's messy.

I've never soaked a crab in milk. Don't think it's necessary.

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I've only cooked softshells once before, and uh, I had just moved to New Orleans and had no clue what I was doing, so basically poached them in gumbo. It wasn't bad, but it's not something I've got planned to do again, either.

I have two large softshells I'm thawing right now which I bought in the spring and keep putting off because I've wanted to "save them for when I'm really craving them," like the Pepsi Blue that sat in the closet until it lost its fizz. I'm a hoarder sometimes.

At the start of the thread, someone mentioned a problem with frozen softshells being mushy -- is this something I need to worry about or can try to avoid? I don't expect them to be as good as fresh, but in Indiana I was just happy to find them at all.

I'm leaning towards pan-frying them with a little flour, cayenne, and garlic salt, and having them alongside frog legs sauce piquante. (Yeah, I'm cleaning out the freezer this weekend.)

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There is an excellent recipe for soft shell crabs in Savannah Seasons that calls for them to be stuffed and fried (using a light batter). I am drawing a blank on the stuffing, but will look it up and post back.

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I just picked up a dozen prime soft shell crabs for $20. I was very happy with the price and the crabs. I should have gone for the cleaning for extra two dollars but I was cheap.

I going to do the first 4 for dinner tonight. I dredging in flour mixed with old bay and sautee them in butter and oil combo.

Would appreciate hearing about your fav. recipes for me to try for the remaining one.

Soup

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Mmmmm.... soft shell crab poboys.

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First soak them in milk and ice cubes

Sit em on a towel, and poke holes in the shell (to lessen the popping during frying)

Dredge in seasoned flower...

Then fry in butter/sunflower oil mixture till golden on each sides.

Salt

Serve with a slice of lemon, and enjoy!

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If you have a weight to put on them while frying they get crispier...yeah watch that popping they can really spit

tracey

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