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#51 Anna Blume

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 11:38 AM

According to Paige of Buster's (Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market among others), this is peak time. She had lots this weekend, plucked out of rocky, cold, violently windswept waters.

#52 ScotteeM

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 07:54 PM

We bought four of the fattest, meatiest, freshest soft shell crabs we've ever eaten yesterday at Wegmans in Fairfax. And the poor fish counter person waiting on me literally shrieked with joy when I said, "Don't clean them." :lol: (At $6.00 each for such heavy crabs, I thought they were a good deal.)

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#53 jandres374

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 01:44 PM

Anyone seen any softies in area markets for a decent price - have seen at both BlackSalt and River Falls ($9.99/ea at both places).

#54 ScotteeM

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:49 PM

Anyone seen any softies in area markets for a decent price - have seen at both BlackSalt and River Falls ($9.99/ea at both places).

We got two beauties last week at Wegmans in Fairfax. They were $9.99 each, and they measured 6 inches point to point--they were HUGE! They were also very lively--I cleaned them minutes before I put them in the pan. We added a few large fresh wild-caught shrimp to the pan as well, and it was plenty for the two of us. At that price, we won't buy them as often as we used to, but we like to support the industry when we can.

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#55 thetrain

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:19 AM

Anyone seen any softies in area markets for a decent price - have seen at both BlackSalt and River Falls ($9.99/ea at both places).

Got this in my inbox click.

#56 jandres374

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 10:31 AM

Saw that Brabo Butcher Block was advertising soft shells yesterday for $3.75.

#57 ICD

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 09:54 AM

The White House farmers market has them live and dressed (what an interesting euphemism) for $5. I'm not sure the vendor is there every Thursday.
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#58 jandres374

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 08:14 PM

Ended up getting some today from River Falls, $7 each. Not huge but very fresh and tasty.

#59 Anna Blume

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 09:26 AM

They're back at Buster's Seafood!!!!!

Paige had a few at the farmers market at Dupont Circle. It was her second Sunday in a row when she came alone because Jimmy was working on the new harvest. Should be more next week at their markets in Williiamsburg and DC. More info about Buster's

#60 DonRocks

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:39 AM

I've been hearing about soft shell crab prices in restaurants this year that are making me cringe. I'm hearing (from several people) prices of about $18 per at some of the more upscale restaurants, and they supposedly aren't very big. Anyone know what's going on in the market? Usually I'm at the vanguard of early soft shells, but this year I just haven't been.

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Rocks

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#61 Ferhat Yalcin

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:37 AM

I had a dozen `whale soft shells` came in from SC last week. I am not able to get it again until next week because of the current weather conditions in SC, fishermen can not catch, I was told. So this can easily relate to the price. Size of the crabs looked fine to me, in my 4x4 ciabatta bread the crab fills up, legs and claws go way out the bread and people love it. Something I noticed is, some of the crabs shell was not soft enough (still very edible) but not what I expect from a soft shell. I guess this will change eventually. I serve it at $16 with red pepper sauce as a sandwich.

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#62 MC Horoscope

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:31 PM

I had two at Jerry's in Lanham for $30 at lunch the other day. They are "stuffed" with their crab imperial, battered, and deep fried. But the soft shell crabs themselves are quite meaty, and I did not detect that the shells were tough. (Jerry's is overpriced but it's a guilty pleasure of mine now and then.)

#63 jandres374

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:02 AM

They were on the menu at Black's last weekend - $33 (ouch). I had a nice softshell sandwich at the Mussle Bar last week and I think it was $16 or $17.

#64 dcs

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:18 AM

From Bittman, for those who want to prepare them at home: Soft-Shell Crabs: Three Methods, Four Coatings, Five Sauces

#65 squidsdc

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:58 AM

The ones I had in B'more last week at Mo's were $23 for what they called small, but the body was at least 3/12" across--and they served three for that price. And they were soft, and incredibly meaty with a minimum depth of at least 1 1/2".

FWIW, I noticed there is a food truck in Farragut today serving a soft shell for $14.

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#66 DanielK

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:30 AM

They were on the menu at Black's last weekend - $33 (ouch). I had a nice softshell sandwich at the Mussle Bar last week and I think it was $16 or $17.


That sounds comparably priced to me - I'll bet the sandwich was one crab, and the dinner at Black's was 2.

#67 squidsdc

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:41 PM

Report on the food truck soft shell--verrrrry good. It was served atop a salad of watercress with roasted tomatoes, carrots, beets, cucumber, spring onion and lightly dressed. I removed the items I couldn't eat, and it was still quite tasty and refreshing. The crab itself was small, but well-prepared. I think I detected a note of cumin in the saute.

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#68 deangold

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:03 PM

$19 for one, 26 for two. Simply griled with house summer tomato essence P{mainly for dipping the legs and bread before sopping up the juices & salad.

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#69 jandres374

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 08:03 AM

Anyone picked these up at any local seafood places this season for home cooking. Looking to make some for dinner tonight.

#70 zoramargolis

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:10 AM

Anyone picked these up at any local seafood places this season for home cooking. Looking to make some for dinner tonight.

Saw them on Tuesday at A&H in Bethesda. Can't recall the price, but most everything at that store is reasonably priced compared to other fish markets in the area.

#71 genericeric

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:25 AM

Anyone picked these up at any local seafood places this season for home cooking. Looking to make some for dinner tonight.

Wegmans in Fairfax also had them last week, depending on where 'local' is for you

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#72 jandres374

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:37 PM

Ended up picking some up at A&H for $4.50 each, not whales but a decent size for the price.

#73 mdt

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 06:04 AM

Ended up picking some up at A&H for $4.50 each, not whales but a decent size for the price.

I think they were $5 at Wegman's.

#74 pjoshea13

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:25 AM

Here in the mountains of western NC, just north of Asheville, we have had access to excellent "local", i.e. NC, soft-shells. Cape Fear Coast Seafood is a small family business that fishes off the NC coast & sells at two locations, at the weekend. They don't catch everything that they sell, but they have access to everything caught where they operate. There is often an immense & varied choice. Very fresh.

For the past 5 weeks, I have bought 4 largish softshell crabs on the Friday. Two for dinner & two for breakfast the next day. My wife will not eat them. I have tried the traditional po boy recipe, but I recently, for health reasons, decided to adopt a modified paleolithic diet - no grains, no dairy & no starchy vegetables. Not as boring as it might sound. So, for the past few weekends, I have simply been sauteing them in butter - belly side down for 4 minutes & turned for a further 3 minutes. This has been a revelation to me. A light batter dulls the taste too much. The butter-crab flavor is bright in the mouth.

Perhaps if the crabs were not already dressed - a simple process - I might shave a minute or two off the cooking time.

My breakfasts have followed the same pattern: two crabs, sliced shitake mushrooms very lightly sauteed in butter, a good dollop of guacamole & a roasted red pepper. Simple & immensely satisfying.

Alas, there are no NC crabs this weekend.

I have also eaten crabs this year at Table, in Asheville. They get them delivered while alive, which is clearly preferable. I was told that, although the season extends into summer, the source moves south (does that make sense?) & the quality declines, and so the crabs disappear from the menu. It seems that I must now wait another year.

But this is how food used to be. As a kid growing up in England, local strawberries (the only kind) were a 7-day phenomena. Expensive on the first day; inedible on the seventh. We gorged on the third & made jam on the fifth. More or less.

On our last trip to England, we stopped by a roadside stand & bought some strawberries. They were horrible. Came from Spain (should surely have been better?). We were told that, owing to the uncertainty of the weather, strawberries were no longer grown in England on any scale.

There is a Thai restaurant in Asheville where softshells are always on the menu. I generally pass. I haven't asked where they come from, but suspect the worse. Pleasant enough, but a 3 - not a 9-10.

I owe Cape Fear Coast Seafood a huge debt in another regard. I had never tasted NC redfish until I bought from them. It is a lovely versatile fish. If I get a craving for home-made fish & chips, I wait until redfish is available. It is the perfect fish for the dish. No other fish will do.

Recipe:

Use bigger fillets of redfish. Take the thick end (4-6 oz based on appetite; two 4 oz fillets each is also good). Scaled; skin on; pin bones removed.

Mix salt & pepper to taste into 1 cup flour. I like to taste the pepper in the crunchy batter. Some people use salt alone, & sprinkle on the cooked batter. I prefer the batter to be seasoned.
Combine with one cup of good beer. Asheville is "Beer City", so naturally, a local brew.
Fold in two egg whites that have been beaten to soft peaks.

Halve the mix if cooking for two.

Heat cooking fat to 350 degrees. Dip the fillets into into the batter & drop into the hot fat. Fry until the batter is golden brown. No precise timing here. Trial & error, depending on pan size, the amount of fat, the fillet size, & the heat source. But not many minutes at all.

This is where I'll lose people. I do no not use omega-6-rich vegetable oils & I will not use canola oil. Hard to find these days, but I fall back on lard. Lard is 45% monounsaturated fatty acid - oleic acid - as in olive oil (73%). Almost a health food [LOL] - & certainly not deserving of demonization. And the batter simply does not absorb much fat. At 350 degrees, it is a light dish. Not cloying in any way. You will eat it all.

Thanks to Jaimie Oliver for the egg white tip.

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#75 wisehands

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 04:32 PM

Had great softshells at Crisfield in Silver Spring today. Total bill (incl. tax, not tip) for 2 softshell sandwiches with fries and slaw (comes with 1 side, extra for 1 added side), 2 beers and 1 wine was just over $40, so the softshell sandwiches might have been $12 each. Each sandwich had 2 plump softshells in them. They started serving them about 2 weeks ago.

BTW, Salt River Lobster was selling softshells for $5 at the Kensington Farmers Market today.

#76 DonRocks

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 03:57 PM

I've been hearing about soft shell crab prices in restaurants this year that are making me cringe. I'm hearing (from several people) prices of about $18 per at some of the more upscale restaurants, and they supposedly aren't very big. Anyone know what's going on in the market? Usually I'm at the vanguard of early soft shells, but this year I just haven't been.

Cheers,
Rocks


They were on the menu at Black's last weekend - $33 (ouch). I had a nice softshell sandwich at the Mussle Bar last week and I think it was $16 or $17.


Went to the Village location yesterday afternoon to get some chili crabs. They only have dungies and I didn't want to eat a 2 lb crab myself as a mid-afternoon snack. So I ordered two fried softshell crabs, served with hot sauce and fish sauce. Nothing special - other than the price was $32 (marked as market price on the menu)


So yes, $16 seems to be the average restaurant price this year - the days of the ubiquitous $12 soft-shell (or two for $18 at a strip-mall Vietnamese restaurant) are over, for now.

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#77 Andelman

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:58 AM

I just read a blurb on Eater about soft shells (in restaurants) and now I am hankering for a soft shell sandwich---on white bread, of course!

Has anyone seen any at a fish market/grocery/etc..? I just want to buy a few and take em' home to cook up.

(I also want to see if I can get my daughter to eat one :) )

I'm in Arlington, so the closer, the better.

Thanks in advance.


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#78 monavano

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 10:01 AM

I know a lot of people go to the Maine Ave. market to get them. Maybe Shells Yes?



#79 Rovers2000

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 10:05 AM

I normally pick the ones I make at home from the fish counter at BlackSalt - just a hop across the Chain Bridge from Arlington


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#80 KMango

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 12:45 PM

Call Whole Foods Clarendon, and ask when they come in.  I've seen them there a few times, and you may even be able to place a small, special order.


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#81 ScotteeM

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:35 PM

Call Whole Foods Clarendon, and ask when they come in.  I've seen them there a few times, and you may even be able to place a small, special order.

Best to double-check, because last time I asked they don't carry live soft-shells, just previously cleaned and frozen/thawed.

 

My husband reports that Wegmans has had soft-shells (live) for a few weeks. It's not exactly close to Arlington, but it's not a bad ride out 66 at an off-time.


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#82 Andelman

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:36 PM

Thanks all! I definitely want them live, so I'll give Wegmans or Blacksalt a shot.


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#83 DC Deb

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:09 AM

If you end up in Bethesda for any reason, A & H has them now.



#84 jandres374

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:26 AM

Last I checked A&H also has the best pricing - usually under $5.  Black Salt was $9 last time I was there.



#85 TedE

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:38 PM

RIP Buster's Seafood at the Dupont Market.  I used to get one almost every week when he had them live in season and pan fry it up at home for a treat.


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#86 mdt

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:59 PM

Last I checked A&H also has the best pricing - usually under $5.  Black Salt was $9 last time I was there.

Wegman's live ones are usually right around the $5 mark too.



#87 Andelman

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:25 PM

Well, as it turns out the brother of one of my employees owns a peeler shack down on the northern neck. She brought be back a dozen "whales" for $30.00! :). They came out of the water on Sunday afternoon and were in my frying pan on Monday evening.

Pan-fried them up with a simple coating of cornmeal and flour. Served on a lightly toasted soft roll with a lemon-horseradish mayo and some shredded lettuce. About as perfect of a dinner as I've had in a long time....

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#88 BklynBoy

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 12:20 PM

I recommend America Seafood in the Lee Hights Shopping center on Lee Highway. I bought softshells from them a few weeks ago for $7.00 each and they were large and fresh. They also serve softshell sandwiches and other fish sandwiches on their back patio 



#89 deangold

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 09:23 AM

Interesting fact...

 

Soft shells mainly come from "peeler houses"  A peeler is a soft shell about to happen, its a hard shell where there characteristic changes the crab goes thru before shedding are evident {apparently the back of the shell rises and there is color change, but not being a waterman, who knows!}  The ppler house puts the crabs in a temperature controlled environment and holds them till they are needed.  Then the temperature is adjusted and the crab "peels" and is a softie.  The softie can only stay in the water for 12 to 24 or so hours after or it gets back to being a hardshell.  The shell is fully formed in 48 hours.  

 

But what is fun to note {and a fact I just found out about} is that the softie can be called a Maryland Softshell Crab even if the crab originates elsewhere as long as it peels in a Maryland tank.  

 

We ahve a vendor who gets us Chesapeake only crabs.  More expensive, but just much better.  The crabs are heavier and livelier than the crabs sold to be at first of season from my pretty much former seafood vendor.  {will be former when everything is re sourced from new folk who tell the truth.  

 

When challenged as to provenance, the former guys did not revel this fact.  I had to go to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries outreach to find out what was up.  So local softshells may not be local after all.    

 

Labeling laws... you gottta love them!


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#90 weezy

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 02:45 PM

Interesting fact...

 

Soft shells mainly come from "peeler houses"  A peeler is a soft shell about to happen, its a hard shell where there characteristic changes the crab goes thru before shedding are evident {apparently the back of the shell rises and there is color change, but not being a waterman, who knows!}  

 

My brother-in-law had a peeler house operation on the Middle Peninsula back in the '80s and my sister helped out there.  The characteristic changes are *not* apparent to the untrained eye.  I never could differentiate a peeler from a hard shell in the tanks.  Even blind luck should have gotten me 1 or 2 out of all my attempts!  Nada.  Zilch.  Janet would walk by with a net, scoop, done.


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#91 jandres374

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 07:21 AM

Tried to pick some up at A&H earlier this week but they had already sold out.  Has anyone seen in stores this season - what is the pricing looking like this year?






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