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#1 Anna Blume

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:12 AM

The Washington Post today reported that Whole Foods has halted sales of live soft shell crabs, opting instead to sell frozen pre-dressed soft shells, "in keeping with its commitment to the ethical treatment of animals."

You can get them at the farmer's market, Dupont Circle, on Sunday, May 21.

However, I am fairly certain the crabs are dead if not frozen.

#2 giant shrimp

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:28 AM

You can get them at the farmer's market, Dupont Circle, on Sunday, May 21.

However, I am fairly certain the crabs are dead if not frozen.

so much for bonding with them before they are eaten.

#3 bioesq

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:34 AM

You can get them at the farmer's market, Dupont Circle, on Sunday, May 21.

However, I am fairly certain the crabs are dead if not frozen.

The Market on the Boulevard (Glen Echo Seafood-301-229-2526) sells them. They don't have any in today, but will gladly get them for you. They carry only live ones.

#4 mdt

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:06 PM

You can get them at the farmer's market, Dupont Circle, on Sunday, May 21.

However, I am fairly certain the crabs are dead if not frozen.

The ones at the DuPont market are LIVE (though they may have some frozen, but don't buy those). I believe that they will clean them for you, but you better head home to cook quickly as they don't last too long once killed.

#5 TedE

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 02:44 PM

The ones at the DuPont market are LIVE (though they may have some frozen, but don't buy those). I believe that they will clean them for you, but you better head home to cook quickly as they don't last too long once killed.

When in season they are live, but he also stocks frozen ones and sometimes has them both at the same time. I was duped one day when he had larges and smalls for sale, and I could see the larges were clearly live. I bought a small for a sandwich and when I got home it was frozen. I don't like to believe that he pulled a fast one on me, but it never hurts to make your preferences clear.

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#6 ScotteeM

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:19 AM

From the Black's Bar and Kitchen thread:

My wife was disappointed by the size of the soft shell crab (one, from the appetizers), but I contend that it's pretty much out of season so I wonder why it is still on the regular menu. Better in June, I am sure. At $14, we do better at home, though it was delicious, she said.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband called Wegmans to ask if they had softshell crabs, and was told the season was over. I thought the season lasted until September, with supplies waxing and waning through the summer.

In checking my facts, I found this on Virginia Seafood:

The soft-shell is the blue crab in its molted state.The molting process means an abundant supply of soft crabs from late spring to early fall, with May through September ranking as the most productive months.

So what's the real story? The live softshells that Wegmans had in June were wonderful and reasonably priced, but they don't seem to have any now.

Surely the season is longer than 1-2 months!

Dona Animella


#7 Pappy

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 08:24 AM

The peak of the season is probably past, but softshells are generally available around these parts through the warm part of September. It is my understanding, however, that when it gets really, really hot, the crabs (softies esp) just kinda stop moving around, stop growing, stop molting, etc. They just want to dig into the mud and stay cool. Once the really hot streak passes, you should begin to see a few more in the market.

What I can't answer is what percentage of the softshells in our markets come from the Chesapeake, and what percentage come from NC, or even LA, etc.

#8 DaveBVI

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 10:59 AM

every month, the molting peaks at full moon, and the supply generally keeps up until the October's full moon. The size/heat part of the equation I'm not so sure about. :)
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#9 ScotteeM

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 04:29 PM

every month, the molting peaks at full moon, and the supply generally keeps up until the October's full moon. The size/heat part of the equation I'm not so sure about. :)
Dave Batista

Well, tomorrow is a full moon (yippee!) although it is kind of hot. We'll see what happens this week.

Thanks!

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#10 DaveBVI

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Posted 12 August 2006 - 05:11 AM

So was I right, did availabliity peak with the August moon? :)
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#11 crackers

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 01:05 PM

From WTOP ---> clickity.

TANGIER SOUND, Md. - Softshell crabs, the delicacy that pleases gourmet palates and lines watermen's pockets, are in scarce supply this summer. "It's up there among the worst seasons. I'll put it that way," said Dwight Marshall, a Smith Island waterman who has crabbed for more than 40 years.

Crabs normally begin shedding their shells in May, starting the softshell crab season which provides the money that helps many watermen make it through the winter. The downturn in the catch this year is particularly tough because of rising fuel prices.

More than 90 percent of the state's soft crabs come from Tangier Sound and nearly every islander's living is tied to the season. Watermen from the island's three towns of Tylerton, Rhodes Point and Ewell head out every morning to check their traps or dredge the bottom, returning in the afternoon and putting their catch of molting crabs in a tank. The tanks are checked every few hours to see whether the crabs have shed their shells. Smith Island crabbers usually ship about 25 boxes a day to markets in Crisfield, each box holding up to 18 dozen soft-shells. Last month, the ferry to Crisfield carried about four boxes a trip.

While some say a cold spring may have delayed shedding until later in the summer, others are not so sure. Bill Goldsborough, senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the loss of eelgrass in Tangier Sound this spring deprived juvenile crabs of their shedding habitat. "If that die-off affected the population in such a way that would be observable, the time you would see it is in the peeler season, which would be now," Goldsborough told The (Baltimore) Sun. "My sense is that it's of a magnitude that it could have a lot of effect."

Marshall, 61, picks through grass in a crab pot that is noticeably absent of the glass shrimp, water fleas and other small creatures crabs feed on and offers another explanation. He blames pollution from sewage treatment plants and other runoff from recent heavy rains which is prompting algae blooms that rob oxygen from the water, killing the crab's prey. However, recent catches are up, with the ferry once again carrying about 15 boxes a day, raising hopes for a good end to the season. "You don't really know what kind of year it is until it all winds up and you see what's in the checkbook," Marshall said. "You have to trust in the Lord to supply your needs. I ain't never seen him fail yet."


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#12 ferment everything

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:50 AM

I've seen soft-shells on the menu at a couple places now (Tabard and Corduroy). Anybody seen them in stores or at farmer's market? I thought the season didn't really start until May, but I'm not complaining.
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#13 Barbara

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:37 AM

I've seen soft-shells on the menu at a couple places now (Tabard and Corduroy). Anybody seen them in stores or at farmer's market? I thought the season didn't really start until May, but I'm not complaining.

Corduroy has soft-shell crabs???? Uh-oh. :blink:

#14 ferment everything

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:57 AM

Corduroy has soft-shell crabs???? Uh-oh. :blink:

They were out of them by the time we got there, but they were on the menu. In hindsight, the fact that they were out meant that I went for the pork cheeks. Every cloud.

And the one I had at Tabard was good, stuffed with crabmeat and delicately fried. Not mindblowingly great, but pretty good. I wont be able to make the farmer's market tomorrow morning...if anybody goes, let me know if there are any softshell sightings.
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#15 Mark Slater

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 11:18 AM

Soft shells at Citronelle: Tempura, stuffed with blue crab, corn risotto. Yummmm.

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#16 RaisaB

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 11:35 AM

The Crabcake last night at Restaurant Kolumbia came atop a softshell crab. It was very good.

#17 Al Dente

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 03:57 PM

Soft shells at Citronelle: Tempura, stuffed with blue crab, corn risotto. Yummmm.

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#18 MC Horoscope

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 05:56 PM

David Craig in Bethesda had soft shells from Savannah this week. Nice meal!

#19 legant

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 04:55 PM

Where can you buy softshells for "restaurant-inspired meals made at home"? Someone suggested Cannon's in Georgetown; any place else?

#20 bioesq

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 05:27 PM

Where can you buy softshells for "restaurant-inspired meals made at home"? Someone suggested Cannon's in Georgetown; any place else?

Try Glen Echo Seafood in Cabin John- (301) 229-2526. It's located just past Seven Locks Road off of MacArthur Blvd., and would be a much easier drive than Georgetown.

#21 deangold

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 07:18 PM

Black salt would be good too. River Falls Seafood expensive but supremely good.

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#22 synaesthesia

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 08:05 PM

I saw some at the Dupont farmers market this morning.
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#23 ScotteeM

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 06:40 AM

I got some at Slavin & Sons yesterday. Good sized, tasty, $4.99 each, cleaned to order.

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#24 legant

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 08:16 AM

I got some at Slavin & Sons yesterday. Good sized, tasty, $4.99 each, cleaned to order.

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#25 Soup

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 06:39 PM

Well, I think it's season for soft shell crabs. I would appreciate a heads up for any good sources for these. Thanks in advance.

Soup

#26 DanCole42

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 07:13 PM

Can't speak to the quality, but Wegman's has them.

They're labeled as "LIVE," but they're clearly not moving and in the display case, not in a tank.

I suppose maybe it means they could be reanimated through the proper application of insanity, lightning, and gumption.
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#27 dcdavidm

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 09:24 PM

Well, I think it's season for soft shell crabs. I would appreciate a heads up for any good sources for these. Thanks in advance.

Soup

Black Salt has had some nice plump ones the past several weeks. The ones I had were sourced to Georgia, if I recall correctly.

#28 TedE

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 09:49 PM

They're labeled as "LIVE," but they're clearly not moving and in the display case, not in a tank.

Probably are live. Put 'em on ice and they essentially go into a crabby coma. You can sometimes still see some bubbles from respiration, but they won't move even if you poke and prod them. And I believe holding them on ice slows or prevents the shell hardening which is what you are trying to prevent in the first place. If you let them come back to room temp they will start moving about. Last spring I had one get lively enough to almost make his way from counter to floor as I was prepping other stuff.

Back to where to find them: Buster's Seafood at the Dupont market will have them for several weeks. Be careful, though: he also has frozen stock. The fresh ones will be more expensive, but check for vitality.

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#29 Anna Blume

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 08:39 AM

Last night I had two soft-shell crabs from Buster's for dinner. ($4 each large; $3 for small). Absolutely delicious.

Paige instructed me to freeze the pair for a while before snipping off the apron, removing the lungs and slicing off the eyes. Sort of defeats the purpose of buying live ones, though. Is there a better, reasonably humane way to go about this process or do you just have to accept the cruelty involved?

And what's the pale green stuff you find when you lift up certain parts of crabs? These weren't female lobsters, so undigested food? Waste?

* * *
Very simple prep: dredged, seasoned and fried in skillet. Other suggestions? What about not frying?

#30 Biotech

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 01:58 PM

Last night I had two soft-shell crabs from Buster's for dinner. ($4 each large; $3 for small). Absolutely delicious.

Paige instructed me to freeze the pair for a while before snipping off the apron, removing the lungs and slicing off the eyes. Sort of defeats the purpose of buying live ones, though. Is there a better, reasonably humane way to go about this process or do you just have to accept the cruelty involved?

And what's the pale green stuff you find when you lift up certain parts of crabs? These weren't female lobsters, so undigested food? Waste?

* * *
Very simple prep: dredged, seasoned and fried in skillet. Other suggestions? What about not frying?

I grew up near the Jersey shore and there were many ways to get the little guys to sleep before plunging the harshells into boiling water without them giving you a fight. The refrigerator can work, but by putting them in the freezer, or on ice, you are as stated above, anesthetizing them a bit. You don't want them to freeze solid, you are just trying to get them to the dormant state referenced above. 15 minutes in the freezer max should do it. 10 is more like it.

Anytime you are preparing the crab yourself, there will be some barbarism involved. Thus chilling them to comatose is preferred. The pale green material is known as "mustard" up in NJ and is really, basically, crap.

The only time I've had some second thoughts of preparing seafood was when I was running late for a dinner party and didn't have the time to chill down my lobsters before executing 4 lobsters with a chef's knife. There is a process to do it quickly, but the buggers are so primitive that they still flip around. I also remember my grandmother preparing eel when I was a kid. Live eel, even when skinned, gutted, and chopped to pieces, still twitches. I believe she did it this way as it was, in her words, "self breading." :D

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#31 jandres374

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 12:25 PM

Picked up some nice soft shells at Black Salt on Sunday. I believe they were from NC. Not cheap though - $8.50 each.

#32 Tweaked

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 12:52 PM

Eastern Market has them for around $6.

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#33 Anna Blume

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 01:44 PM

Buster's $4 each large; $3 for small

This sounds like the best deal, then, for local, live crabs. Dupont Circle on Sundays. What other markets or venues, anyone know?

#34 jandres374

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 01:51 PM

I should mention that for the $8.50 at Black Salt they do clean them for you.

#35 dcaCRL

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 03:36 PM

The On the Gourmet truck, which appears at the Great Falls & Alexandria West End markets, has soft shells (cleaned & frozen) for $6/ea. Got myself some for mother's day, they were excellent. (Just dredged in Old Bay-seasoned flour and sauteed in butter.)

#36 ScotteeM

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:57 PM

My husband saw female soft shell crabs at The Great Wall this afternoon--live. He deliberated for a while and ultimately didn't buy them. Does anyone know why one would not want to buy FEMALE soft shell crabs? The price was very reasonable, as is typical at TGW.

Dona Animella


#37 Anna Blume

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 10:37 PM

Does anyone know why one would not want to buy FEMALE soft shell crabs?

Not much meat on her, but what's there is cherce.

#38 GeorgetownFoodie

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 11:42 PM

Well, I think it's season for soft shell crabs. I would appreciate a heads up for any good sources for these. Thanks in advance.

Soup

This morning, I was at BRABO Butcher's Block in Old Town Alexandria (1600 King St.) and they had soft-shelled crabs for $6 each. They looked fresh but rather small.


I should mention that for the $8.50 at Black Salt they do clean them for you.

I can attest to the premium quality of BlackSalt's soft-shelled crabs, and they do an impeccable job of cleaning them.


And what's the pale green stuff you find when you lift up certain parts of crabs? These weren't female lobsters, so undigested food? Waste?

I believe the "green stuff" is the crab's hepatopancreas and on rare occasions--with or without being contaminated--can be green (http://www.bluecrab....cooking_faq.htm).


Very simple prep: dredged, seasoned and fried in skillet. Other suggestions? What about not frying?

I have had some (BlackSalt's) pan-fried in EVOO with just a little bit of butter. I love the natural taste of blue crab, so the succulence of the meat shined through by not having any dredging or seasonings. Since crab naturally has some salinity, I had mine prepared without salt and happened to not need any after cooking. Of course, as they say, "salt to taste."

#39 Anna Blume

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 04:04 PM

I had mine prepared without salt and happened to not need any after cooking.

Interesting, since I was following instructions* that also said use pepper only.

On the other hand, Suzanne Goin* recommends cooking them for around 7 minutes and I noticed a number of other recipes calling for only 3 minutes, total.

#40 Mark Slater

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 10:26 PM

Interesting, since I was following instructions* that also said use pepper only.

On the other hand, Suzanne Goin* recommends cooking them for around 7 minutes and I noticed a number of other recipes calling for only 3 minutes, total.

The tempura SS Crab at Central tonight was sensational.

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#41 DanielK

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 11:12 PM

The tempura SS Crab at Central tonight was sensational.

I may have to get over there this week to check it out. My wife has been jonesing for softies...

#42 ScotteeM

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:18 AM

We bought the soft shells at The Great Wall yesterday morning. They were $2.50 each.

The catch, as I had suspected, was that the fishmongers there won't clean them. My husband was going to walk away without them, but I took a deep breath and said, "I can do it."

Armed with my basic knowledge of crab anatomy, years of watching fishmongers clean soft shells, and an instructional video I found on line, I cleaned our four little crabs, floured them, and sauteed them in butter.

I won't say they were the best I've ever had, but they were quite meaty and tasty. I was still too full of pig from the CityZen picnic, though, to eat more than one.

Interestingly, the instructional video and several illustrated how-to websites I found all showed female soft-shells being cleaned. Now I know!

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#43 TedE

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 10:29 AM

My husband saw female soft shell crabs at The Great Wall this afternoon--live. He deliberated for a while and ultimately didn't buy them. Does anyone know why one would not want to buy FEMALE soft shell crabs? The price was very reasonable, as is typical at TGW.

It comes down to sustainability. When the crab population in the Chesapeake was booming watermen took jimmies (males) and sooks (females) as they found them. When the harvests started to dwindle some voluntarily started throwing the sooks back and jimmies were pretty much all you'd find (I think it was voluntary, but maybe the harvest was limited for a time). Now with the population reaching critical levels and watermen struggling I don't think anything is getting thrown back. I haven't knowingly eaten a female Chesapeake crab in a couple decades and ask for all males whenever I get a bushel.

Of course the real solution is not to eat Chesapeake crabs at all, but the Bawlmer boy in me can't resist a couple times a summer. I fully realize and accept that this is part of the problem.

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#44 KMango

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 08:13 PM

* * *
Very simple prep: dredged, seasoned and fried in skillet. Other suggestions? What about not frying?

I have marinated, then pan-grilled them with much success. I *heart* my nonstick, 13-inch Calphalon grill pan (the round one).

A quick web search for "grilled soft shell crabs" will highlight several other marinade options. I've been successful with a brief soy sauce/rice vinegar/red pepper marinade, but I'm sure others have even more ideas.

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#45 ScotteeM

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 08:57 PM

Some sort of a miso marinade would probably be delightful with soft shells!

Dona Animella


#46 Soup

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 01:03 PM

Got another batch of softshell crabs today at the great wall. $2.50 per crab. There very very lively. Great deal. Crabs were medium size but certainly fresh.

#47 KMango

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:21 PM

Wash Post ran an article today about softies. A few local vendors received mention.

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#48 jandres374

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:07 PM

Brabo Butcher Block had some jumbo softies today - biggest I have seen this year. $6.50 each.

#49 Soup

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 09:40 PM

Its may in DC. My thoughts turn to soft shell crabs. Anyone see them anywhere.

#50 DanielK

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 09:57 PM

Fabulous ones at Bobby's Crabcakes in Rockville.




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