One of the best things to eat are soft shell Crabs. I just love the flavor of a nicely sauted crab and the way it’s naturally sweet sea food flavor is enhanced by the melted butter and herbs. But my favorite is a soft shell crab Po Boy sandwich. The crispy fried legs sticking out of toasted French bread or hoagie roll and smothered with Tartar sauce. Delicious
Soft shell crabs are in season from May until September, but if you aren’t near the beach, and even then, you’ll most likely be eating a frozen one. Freezing is not quite as good if the chef doesn’t dry the crab out before cooking. I’ve only had fresh soft shell crab once and it was amazing.
About the Crab
The crab is a Blue Crab that is molting (shedding its shell) in order to grow larger. The crab farmers only have a 1-3 hour window of opportunity to harvest the crabs in the “soft” form by collecting the crabs just before they molt and watching them until the perfect moment. After that the new shell starts to harden. The hardening process can be slowed for fresh soft shells by putting them on ice, but freezing obviously stops the process completely.
To clean the crab before cooking all you need is a sharp pair of scissors. First turn the crab over and find lungs (left picture above), which are a fibrous like tissue right where you might think they are supposed to be. Cut them off. Then look for the apron which is also on the bottom and is hard, cut it and anything that seems too hard to eat off. Finially flip the little guy over (right picture above) and cut off the head and eye section. Pat him dry and you are ready to go.
Buying the Crab by Size
Look in the frozen sea food section of your store or ask the fish monger, they will point you to the right spot. Many stores carry pre-cleaned crabs or the fish monger can clean them for you. The Prime size is good for sandwiches, but any size will do. The larger ones are easier to clean.
Look for several recipes from frying to sandwiches under the recipe tab – Jughandle