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Old 04-13-2006, 06:01 AM   #1
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Soft Shell Crab season

is upon us! Anyone have any neat recipes for DH's favorite? Or for a sauce to go w/them?

I usually prepare my SSC with seasoned flour, buttermilk, and panko crumbs, then fry in a butter/oil mixture. Usual sauce is a browned butter sauce made with the crumbs left in the pan, seasoned w/garlic, shallots, a little white wine.

Am thinking of a SSC salad, and some type of 'cream' dressing, maybe?

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Old 04-13-2006, 08:03 AM   #2
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Oh, darn, my absolute favorite food of the gods. For a long time I just sauteed them in butter, but more recently I have very lightly floured them and sauteed in butter. I really like them that way.
Louis Osteen of Charleston and Pawley's Island fame serves his soft shells on fried green tomatoes.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:12 AM   #3
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I LOVE soft shell crabs-My husband usually just dredges them in a flour/old bay mixture and deep fries them- YUM. He also grilled them but, I don't remember how he prepared them.The unhealthy deep fried way is till my favorite. I put it on a Kaiser roll with lettuce and tomato and a tiny bit of mayo.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:23 AM   #4
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I pretty much follow suit with the rest of you. I dredge in seasoned flour, then saute about 4 minutes per side in a combination of extra virgin olive oil & butter. I then remove the crabs & add a splash of white wine, the juice from half a lemon, & sometimes a crushed garlic clove or 2 & a tablespoon of capers if I'm feeling "fancy".

Traditional accompaniments are Ore-Ida shoestring potatoes & garlic-butter-sauteed fresh spinach.
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:29 AM   #5
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Sure wish I could get bushel of blue crab in CA! We sure did enjoy them when we lived in Virginia Beach. Yummy! Sometimes you can buy for $2 each! Never see SSC tho.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:26 AM   #6
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Being land-locked in the Heartland, we don't get them here. I did have them at a restaurant in Florida once. Question: are you supposed to be able to eat the shells? The ones I had did have a soft shell, but it was leathery and not chewable.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:36 AM   #7
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Yes - a properly harvested & cooked soft-shelled crab is completely edible - no waste - & they shouldn't be "leathery".

If the shell was too "leathery", that can only mean that wherever the restaurant got their crabs from passed on crabs that had already started to harden their shells.

Soft-shell crabs are regular Blue Crabs that are going thru their molting process. Right after they molt, the entire crab is soft & tender - shell & all. However, within 24 hours the shell starts to harden, which makes sense when you think about the crab having to survive in the wild. A soft shell makes the crab more vulnerable to predators, thus the faster the shell hardens, the safer the crab is.

Soft-shell crab harvesters normally keep the crabs (called "shedders") in underwater cages & check them constantly in order to pull the ones that have just shed to be sold as "soft shells". They have to be diligent, because once a crab has shed, even it's own companions will eat it.

My guess is that either the restaurant you visited overcooked the crabs, or you were served crabs that had passed the 24-hour shell-hardening period.
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Old 04-13-2006, 02:59 PM   #8
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Hi Constance,
Have you asked the frozen food manager at your local grocery to order soft shell crabs for you? They do freeze quite well.
John.
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Old 04-13-2006, 03:26 PM   #9
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This is just my opinion & experience, but I will NEVER buy regular frozen soft-shell crabs - or even freeze them myself for that matter.

One year, the stores around here were glutted with them, & they were alive - like crawling around the seafood case alive. I bought a slew of them, cleaned them, & froze them - individually vacuum-wrapped I might add. Defrosted & cooked neither the texture nor the taste were the same. They were too soft & too "fishy". Yuck. Same goes for those I've bought from reputable markets around here that have been cleaned/frozen/defrosted. You'll usually find them in little individual plastic wrappers. Again, yuck - especially for the price.

Again, this is personal opinion, but I'd hate to see someone put off of eating Soft Shelled Crabs due to eating bad frozen/defrosted ones. They can't hold the glint of a candle to fresh ones in season.

If you can, try to buy fish & shellfish in season - you're much better off & will enjoy them more.
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:20 PM   #10
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Here's what we ended up doing -

Crabs were covered with flour seasoned with Old Bay, sauteed in oil/butter mixture. Served on a bed of mixed greens/baby spinach, with sauce/dressing of:

sour cream, red wine vinegar, EVOO, salt/pepper, chopped fresh herbs (from the garden!!), chervil, parsley, garlic chives and tarragon.

It was very much yum! And looked pretty, too.
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