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Welcome Edhead707!

Maybe this deserves to be a new topic, but what is the fascination with softshell crabs?  To me it seems that people go a bit crazy to get them.  Is is the limited availability?  Are they really so good that people?

I have to say, though I love hardshell crab, I don't care a bit for the softshell variety. It's mostly a texture thing. The not quite soft shell and the somewhat mushy interior is really off-putting to me.

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I think it's very difficult to find a good soft shell crab. Too often you end up with a greasy flabby uninspiring mess. The last time I remember having a good one was at Cafe Marianna in north Old Town about 3 or 4 years ago. It was deep fried in a light batter and the crab itself was nice and meaty.

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I think it's very difficult to find a good soft shell crab. Too often you end up with a greasy flabby uninspiring mess. The last time I remember having a good one was at Cafe Marianna in north Old Town about 3 or 4 years ago. It was deep fried in a light batter and the crab itself was nice and meaty.

I don't like anything to come between me and my soft shell - no bread, no tempura batter - the flavor and texture are too perfect to mess with.

The best I've had at a restaurant recently was at the Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport, without the roll.

Edited by crackers
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I have to say, though I love hardshell crab, I don't care a bit for the softshell variety.  It's mostly a texture thing. The not quite soft shell and the somewhat mushy interior is really off-putting to me.

Citronelle serves "primes" stuffed with blue crab in light tempura batter. No gook!

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Baltimore boy talking.

The soft shell crabs at Angelina's in Parkville (north of Baltimore) are amazing. Heck, the restaurant is just fantastic in general. My personal favorite seafood place in Baltimore. Of course, I'm a bit biased, but thats what happens when you grow up near such a great place.

Hmm... going up for dinner with the folks soon... reservations must be made...

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I had my first fried softshell at Mendocino the other week, and I liked it well enough. The texture was kind of suprising, as was the goo in the middle. Not in a bad way, now, just sort of "Hey check it out...GOO!!". I can see eating more of these things!

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Baltimore boy talking.

The soft shell crabs at Angelina's in Parkville (north of Baltimore) are amazing. Heck, the restaurant is just fantastic in general. My personal favorite seafood place in Baltimore. Of course, I'm a bit biased, but thats what happens when you grow up near such a great place.

Hmm... going up for dinner with the folks soon... reservations must be made...

Angelina's was sold at auction last week. Don't know who bought it or what they're planning for it, but I hope they don't change the crabcakes.

Update: The person who picked up the phone today says that it will be at least two or three months before the new owners take over. They are planning "some changes" but she couldn't elaborate. She did say she doesn't think they're going to change the crabcakes, which has me thinking that things might not be so bad as all that.

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I had one of the first of the season at Sushi-Ko a couple of weeks ago...

Their signature softshell, just barely fried, served with ponzu sauce. It was a big meaty guy with a light crunch and not a lot of goo. The ponzu sort of cancels out gook and goo anywho...

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Angelina's was sold at auction last week. Don't know who bought it or what they're planning for it, but I hope they don't change the crabcakes.

REALLY?

This has me so upset... thanks for letting me know. If changes are made, I'll be very, very sad. Good memories, and the crabcakes were the best in the known universe.

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I find it amusing when I encounter people ordering soft shell crabs without having the slightest clue what it is. :lol: Some people actually think it’s some kind of crab cake dish or the hard shell type. REALLY—I’ve seen people ask for it to be boiled (do they really know how awful it would taste plainly boiled?) or try to pick on the meat inside with their bare hands as if it were hard shell crabs. I love soft shell crabs and for me, the only 2 best ways to prepare these crispy crustaceans is to lightly batter it and deep-fry or to simply sauté in butter. Soft shell crabs are only at its best when in season. Beware and I’ve seen it in menus, too, when restaurants offer it or in supermarkets in the dead of winter! It’s gotta be frozen.

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Has any one tried the soft shells from the gent at Dupont Farmer's Market that sells oysters and fish? Mr. B and I engaged in a conversation with him once and learned that he has a softshell farm in Virginia that is 5 miles or so away from the water.

His Rappahannock oysters are quite tasty, though a bit large for me.

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As a Louisiana boy, I prefer my softshells fried on a dressed po' boy.

I remember the sandwich at CF Folks to be pretty good - will have to get down there once the season really hits. Been several years.

I've always been a little nervous cooking softshells myself and so I've never tried. They need to be prepped a certain way, right? I've never taken the time to learn what needs to go and what can stay in there.

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As a Louisiana boy, I prefer my softshells fried on a dressed po' boy.

I remember the sandwich at CF Folks to be pretty good - will have to get down there once the season really hits. Been several years.

I've always been a little nervous cooking softshells myself and so I've never tried. They need to be prepped a certain way, right? I've never taken the time to learn what needs to go and what can stay in there.

You have to remove their gills and smiling faces :lol:

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As a Louisiana boy, I prefer my softshells fried on a dressed po' boy.

I remember the sandwich at CF Folks to be pretty good - will have to get down there once the season really hits. Been several years.

I've always been a little nervous cooking softshells myself and so I've never tried. They need to be prepped a certain way, right? I've never taken the time to learn what needs to go and what can stay in there.

Prepping them is easy. If you're a Louisiana boy, you've picked a crab before right? So you should be familiar with crab anatomy. All you have to do is cut or rip out their lungs (aka dead man's fingers). To get to the lungs just lift up either side of the carapace to reveal the innards. You should also cut off their "face" so to speak-- the antennae and eyes can be kind of tough.

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One of the few perks of living in Southern Maryland is the availability of soft shells from many of the seafood markets -- fresh, just hours from the river. Be sure you get a true soft shell - I think they're also called 'paper shells'. Once they begin to harden the least bit, they lose the delicacy that makes them so special.

I'm spoiled because when they're plentiful, it's easy to pick them up and do them many ways - sauteed in butter, tempura, deep-fried po-boys, etc.

Just don't drown them in sauces or condiments or bury them in bread - the delicate taste deserves to shine. :lol:

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I've seen the prep for soft shell crabs on several TV shows (PBS only, I don't have cable), and my problem is this: I can merrily drop a live lobster or crab into boiling water--Martha Stewart suggests throwing a jigger or two of vodka in the boiling water before dropping the animals in because as she said, "Hey, if YOU were going to boiled, wouldn't YOU like a drink first?"--I just can't bring myself to take a pair of scissors and cutting off the eyes of something live. Can I eat soft shell crabs in a restaurant? Sure can!!! Can I do it myself? Alas, no.

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You have to remove their gills and smiling faces  :lol:

It's also a good idea to cut thier ass' off and if your are really adventurous to stick a finger in where thier smiling faces used to be and remove the ballast sack- It has a propensity to explode and spew hot grease on whoever is cooking it. I like the goo(tamale) and don't remove it.

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It's also a good idea to cut thier ass' off and if your are really adventurous to stick a finger in where thier smiling faces used to be and remove the ballast sack- It has a propensity to explode and spew hot grease on whoever is cooking it.  I like the goo(tamale) and don't remove it.

Another episode in the glorious life of being a chef. :lol:

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I like to saute mine in a little butter and olive oil for a couple minutes...remove soft shell...then make a quick sauce by throwing in some shallots, deglaze with white wine, reduce, add a healthy squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of old bay, reduce a little more and add some butter and chopped parsley...serve over a bed of arugula or other greens...

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my problem is this:  --I just can't bring myself to take a pair of scissors and cutting off the eyes of something live. 

Can I do it myself?  Alas, no.

You don't have to. If you are buying them from a seafood market, they will already be cleaned. Only if you are physically catching them (like me), or getting them in uncleaned from the fish vendor like Tom P, do you have to worry about cleaning them.

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You don't have to.  If you are buying them from a seafood market, they will already be cleaned.

Problem with this is when they were cleaned, they begin to deteriorate the minute they are cleaned, we clean them a la minute. When evaluating softies, the other cirteria besides the delicacy of the shell is their liveliness. I'm sure Chef Power would agree that we send back more crabs for their "liveliness" or lack thereof than for any other reason. Only by cleaning them yourself can you gurantee that they are going to be uber-fresh. No body likes cutting the face and ass off a living thing, but I'd rather do it myself and know what I'm getting into than let somebody else do it and not know how fresh my product is.

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No body likes cutting the face and ass off a living thing, but I'd rather do it myself and know what I'm getting into than let somebody else do it and not know how fresh my product is.

Sounds like a perfect job for 8-year-old boys. Keep 'em from pulling the wings off of flies. :lol:

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Chef Tom ripped the ass off a crab for me! I feel so special (don't ruin it by telling me he'd do it for anyone who ordered the dish).

I'm on a kick to resolve a character flaw and reacquire my test for at least some seafood. I'm starting with crustaceans. The kind folks at Corduroy helped me sea all that is good with crab with this dish. Lightly crispy without being greasy and well matched with barely wilted greens and ver jus to round it out. I'm still a little iffy about eating these critters but I would certainly order this dish again.

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I had a wonderful version at Makoto at the end of April. It was lightly battered and deep-fried, served with a green tea salt that was exquisite. I am normally squeamish about texture, but these were out of this world.

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I had a wonderful version at Makoto at the end of April. It was lightly battered and deep-fried, served with a green tea salt that was exquisite.  I am normally squeamish about texture, but these were out of this world.

I actually found the batter on the Makoto crab that I had in mid-May to be way too thick. Absolutely wonderful meal otherwise, but one of the worst softshell crab presentations that I have ever had. I really like to taste the crab itself, and with this one, you could barely even find it beneath all that coating. But, this may have been a different presentation than that in April.

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Also, I blieve that the Sala Thai in Cleveland Park is doing them Thai style.

Sala Thai near Courthouse is doing them Thai style (not dirty) <_<

For some reason I can never remember great softshells and their sauces. I have a good one and then I quickly forget it. I know I had several really tasty ones last year, but they're gone from my memory already. What's with that? Colorado Kitchen? Hank's? Corduroy? Yes, Sushi-Ko. Ummm. What's wrong with me? I do rememeber that I'm not a huge fan of them in sushi.

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Without doubt the my favorite method for softshells is to lightly marinade them with some olive oil and some fresh lime juice and old bay for about 10 minutes. Then place them on an oiled very hot grill bottom side down first for about 5 minutes and just a couple minutes on the tops. They turn that nice red color and get crispy. Much better than the fry method, but that's just me.

George

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