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Soft Shell Crabs


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The Dupont Farmer's Market had great looking soft shells today for $5 each. The vendor told me that while restaurants and stores only carry soft shells for a few months each year, fisherman go out and get them April-September; she'll have them at the her stand til September.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

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I've often wondered why soft-shells seem only to be served in restaurants in this region over a few week period each year, when the crabs (molting approx. every 3 months) should be available to fisherman virtually all the time. Anyone got an explanation or care to hazard a guess...

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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summer's past i've spent many a wonderful hour munching on sauteed (!) soft shells with corn puddin' and old bay-basil beurre blanc at johnny's half shell. as of yet i've not paid my visit but i would bet against smarty jones winning a triple crown (hang on now...) that johnny's has that same prep. beauty is ephemeral but this dish seems to have defied this law; its been on the summer menu for at least 4 years now.

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

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  • 3 weeks later...

Am I already too late for them? I am not seeing them in the restaurants as in past years?

Where have you had them and whose would you recommend?

In the Maryland suburbs of DC I have had them at a few places:

Calvert House Inn, Riverdale: These are by far the best I have had. Plump and juicy, lightly sauteed. Fresh. Seafood is a sure bet at Calvert House, and this is one of their best dishes.

Vicino's Sligo Avenue Silver Spring: These are done in franchese style. The crab is lightly battered and fried. They also serve shrimp franchese.

The old Crisfield's on Georgia Avenue Silver Spring: They're small but full, fried, and make a great sandwich for lunch.

Sergio's on Colesville Rd. in Silver Spring: These are lightly satueed as at Calvert House but for some reason the top shell is chewy. If you just leave it aside it's a much better experience. If you have never been there you should try it. The second time you go there, you are treated like a regular!

Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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  • 10 months later...

If I remember correctly, I think we are heading into soft shell crab season. Any suggestions on where I should be shopping for them. I buy most of my seafood at Super H or Han Ah Rum (in VA) but they don't seem to have them.

Soup

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If I remember correctly, I think we are heading into soft shell crab season.  Any suggestions on where I should be shopping for them.  I buy most of my seafood at Super H or Han Ah Rum (in VA) but they don't seem to have them. 

Soup

Maine Avenue.

Mark

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Who has them on the menu so far? I saw them at Buck's last night--they came with fried lemon and tartar sauce--but I didn't end up ordering them.

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I ordered some from Linton's seafood in Maryland the other day. The fellow I spoke to said the season is about a month behind because of the weather and that the water has been much colder than usual.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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Two local places out my way (South Anne Arundel county MD). It is a little early for consistent availability, so I'd call before anyone makes the trip. I'm picky about my soft shells, I like to touch them myself before buying, and both of these places let you do that.

Peninsula Farms - Route 214 (Central Avenue) in Mayo (east of Edgewater). Inconsistent availability in the summer, but when they have them, they're good.

phone - 410-798-5767

Bob Evans seafood - 5527 Shady Side Rd, Churchton, MD across from the intersection with Chalk Point Rd. More consistent availability in season.

phone - 410-867-3884

A little out of the way, I know, but it's a nice day trip in the summer.

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Two local places out my way (South Anne Arundel county MD).  It is a little early for consistent availability, so I'd call before anyone makes the trip.  I'm picky about my soft shells, I like to touch them myself before buying, and both of these places let you do that.

Thanks DTBarton,

I will check them out.

BTW, I'm not an expert on soft shell. What do you look for other than size? Do soft shells freeze well and what's a good price?

Soup

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Yes, they do freeze well. I remember ordering a sandwich from one of the vendors at the market near Hopkins hospital years ago. The beast he slapped on the grill was clearly frozen and, to my amazement, was incredibly tasty.

I 2nd the Maine Ave recommendation if you want to grab some to cook at home. But don't forgo the experience of munching on a just-fried specimen among the squalor that is the Maine Ave waterfront. You haven't really lived in DC until ...

Chef Tom Meyer had them on the menu at Pesce last week. His supply came from Georgia.

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For Marylanders, I had some good ones but small at Sergio's in Silver Spring, Colesville Road.

The usual suspects for me are Vicino's on Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring and Calvert House Inn in Riverdale.

Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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I 2nd the Maine Ave recommendation if you want to grab some to cook at home.  But don't forgo the experience of munching on a just-fried specimen among the squalor that is the Maine Ave waterfront.  You haven't really lived in DC until ...

Not had them from Maine Ave. Will give it a try. When we don't cook these at home, my wife and I have gotten them at Cameron's Seafood in oxen hill (they have locations in number of maryland burbs) or we've also gotten them at the a little place at eastern market. Both serve great soft shell crab sandwiches but the place in eastern market doesn't carry them regularly.

Soup

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Two local places out my way (South Anne Arundel county MD).  It is a little early for consistent availability, so I'd call before anyone makes the trip.  I'm picky about my soft shells, I like to touch them myself before buying, and both of these places let you do that.

Thanks DTBarton,

I will check them out.

BTW, I'm not an expert on soft shell. What do you look for other than size? Do soft shells freeze well and what's a good price?

Soup

I look for softness rather than size. I buy the softest ones I can find. If the little ones are softest, I have 3 instead of 2 for dinner. The two ways to check are: (1) Poke the back shell. It should feel moist and soft with the shell closely attached to what's beneath it. As the shell starts to harden, it will get a bit of a "leathery" or "papery" feel to it, and air bubbles will start to form under the hardening shell.

and (2) poke the points on the back shell. They harden first. A good soft one, the points should bend under your finger with almost no resistance. Use the smaller points, not the main two big ones on either end of the shell as your guide. A little practice and you'll be able to tell right away.

They do freeze well, but I consider soft shells to be one of those super seasonal things that I eat fresh and right away or not at all, but that's just me. I don't even let the places clean them for me, I keep them live in the fridge until just before cooking.

Down here, soft shells usually cost between $2 and $4 apiece depending on size. If they're good, they're a really cheap delicacy at that price.

If you make the trip, there are other places in Deale, MD that have soft shells as well, I'm just not as familiar with them. There is also a place just north of Severna Park, Md on Ritchie Highway (east side) called Rey's that I've gotten good ones from ocasionally.

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