Soft Shell Crab Recipe

Soft Shell Crab Recipe

While fish are seasonal and change depending on the season seafood has now become as with many other food items an international commodity that is available anytime. The soft-shell crab is an exceptional exception. In May and through the summer the blue crab sheds its shell and begins to make a new shell and makes its sweet, salty delicious flesh — typically extremely difficult to access easily. If the crab is in molting in reality, everything can be eaten, and the newly formed shell is one of the most delicious parts. The combination of softness and crunch make an excellent one among the greatest enjoyments of eating. (If you’re feeling apprehensive about this, I’d advise you to overcome it or avoid all animal products.)

The shell is soft for just a few hours after the crab’s molt, which means that timing is crucial for this business, which is predominantly on the eastern Atlantic coast, but also located in Chesapeake Bay. However, the crabs are shipped well and are readily available across the country right this moment. The majority of soft-shell crabs that you find in the market are prepared to cook. However, this may not be the case if buying them from a genuine fishmonger. In that case, it is recommended to request them cleaned. If you’re in that situation I would cook them in 24 hours. If you’d like to keep them longer you can buy them live and then clean them by yourself.

Too often soft-shell crabs get battered and then overcooked. The crunch is entirely due to the batter that has been fried and the flavor gets hidden by the flour and oil. My preferred method of cooking — and the easiest and most clean one — can be to broil or grill the tiny critters. This gives the skin its natural crunch while leaving the meat juicy and tender. (My easy recipe is to baste using melted butter, lemon juice and Tabasco then grill it until the meat is tender as well as dark.)

However, there’s no doubt that a pan-fried or baked soft-shell crab is gorgeous. Make sure the coating is simple (again my preference is to be simple and dip the crabs in nothing more than cornmeal) and then fry or saute them quickly, using good butter or oil.

Don’t overcook. Once the crabs have a good amount of fat and begin to firm the crabs are cooked and unless the temperatures are too lowit’s unlikely to take more than eight minutes. If you’re deep-frying them, three or four minutes is sufficient. The coatings listed here -with the possible exception from tempura that is nearly all the time deep-fried can be used regardless of whether you’re deep-frying or shallow-frying.

We now come to the topic of sauces. It might not sound all that appealing, but most times you can serve the soft-shell crabs with lemon wedges and some parsley; there’s nothing more delicious. But there’s something other options. The best are listed here such as cilantro “pesto,” ponzu sauce as well as a homemade tartar sauce. There are many other options like miso or soy dip sauce chimichurri . . . Very few sauces will be effective, but I think that the best quality is the very obvious acidity.



Cook the crabs on a gas or charcoal grill or broiler to a moderately hot temperature The rack should be within 4 inches away from the source of heat. Grill or broil the crabs for 3-4 minutes each side, slapping often with butter that has melted (spike them with Tabasco or any other flavor you prefer) as well as olive oil (good with garlic and other herbs). Serve with lemon juice or freshly cut herbs.


Place at minimum 3 inches worth of cooking oil into an enormous, deep saucepan at a high temperature The oil should to be at or around 350 degrees. (If you don’t have a thermometer place a small amount of bread. Once the bread sinks about halfway, and then begins to bubble up onto the surface, the oil has been prepared.) Prepare a coating (recipes follow). Each at a time dip the crabs into mix of flour (dipping them first in egg mixture, if required) and then cook (probably by sections) till golden brown, around two minutes in total, rotating every so often. Then drain on the paper towels.


Place approximately 1/4 inch oil or butter, or a mixture of both in a pan. (Even more effective is butter that has been clarified.) If the fat is smoking (a pinch of flour may shimmer) then dredge them in flour (dipping them into an egg mixture , based on the type of coating you prefer) then sauté. When the bottoms have brown, about three to five minutes later, rotate, and then brown the second side. 


All of the coatings are suitable for at minimum four crabs. Sprinkle salt and pepper into every container.

Simple Flour or Cornmeal

Place a mound of all-purpose cornmeal or flour on a serving dish (you can also add a large pinch of cayenne if prefer). Dip the crabs in the flour and grill or cook.

Cornmeal Batter

Beat an egg using 1 cup of milk in the bowl. On a large platter, mix 1 cup cornmeal with 1/2 cup all-purpose and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Dip the crabs into the egg mixture and douse them in the cornmeal mix and cook or sauté.

Ground Oyster Crackers or Saltines

Beat an egg using 1 cup of milk in the bowl. On a large platter mix 1 cup all-purpose flour and half teaspoons cayenne. On a different plate, place 1 1/2 cups of oyster saltines or crackers (a food processor can make short job for this). Dip the crabs in the flour, dip them into the egg mixture, and then rub the crackers in then fry, or cook.


Lightly mix 2 cups cold ice-cold water along using 3 eggs and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour into large bowl. (The batter must be thin and lumpy Don’t overmix.) Place about 1 cup of dry flour in a plate one at a time then dredge the crabs in flour, then dip them into the batter and cook until golden, not more than five minutes in total. Rinse with paper towels.


It’s enough to feed at least four crabs. Salt and pepperare required.

Tomato Sauce

Make a thin film in a small skillet using olive oil, heat it and add chopped onions and cook, stirring frequently until tender, approximately 3 minutes. Add 1 pounds of chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (along with fresh marjoram or oregano in the event that you’ve got it) to cook, stirring frequently until the sauce is broken down. Mix in 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil or parsley leaves.

Tartar Sauce

With a mixer or food processor mix in 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon vinegar, or lemon juice, and two teaspoons Dijon mustard. Incorporate 1 cup neutral oils in small amounts at a stretch, then adding more until it’s fully incorporated. Once a thick emulsion has formed then add the rest of the oil, but a bit faster. (This process takes about 5 minutes in hand or 1 minute using the food processor). Mix into 1/4 cup of chopped shallot, or mild onion, and one cup cornichon pieces, or other pickles.

Cilantro ‘Pesto’

Mix 2 cups of freshly packed leaves of cilantro 1 clove of garlic peeled and 3 tablespoons of neutral oil into the food processor. Pulse many times. Include 1 teaspoon lime juice in the mix. Add water as required to blend.

Chili Sauce

Mix 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 cups of fish sauce 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh hot chilis, two teaspoons of sugar 1 teaspoon minced dry shrimp (optional) and 1 tablespoon finely chopped carrot (optional). 

Ponzu Sauce

Mix the juice of 2/3 lemon 1/3 cup lime juice 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1 cup soy sauce 1 teaspoon mirin (or 1/4 cup sake ) and 1 teaspoon sugar) along with a 3 inch piece of Kelp, 1/2 cup dried bonito flakes, and a pinch of cayenne. Allow to sit for at least two hours, then strain before serving.

By Michael Caine

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