Soft crabs. To me, they are not called soft shells. This is Baltimore…

You pretty much either love ’em or hate ’em. I used to be completely wigged out by them. I think that having a job cleaning them at a seafood shop might have scarred me a bit. (Thanks, Billy.) My mom has loved them forever. Me, I’ve got texture issues – biting into a soft, yet crunchy LEG of a crab?

Um, no. (Then, fast-forward two years…)

Then, I actually ate my first soft crab. My friend did them on the grill: olive oil, salt, pepper and served with a little butter and Old Bay. Honestly, it was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. I was hooked, all in. There are many ways to prepare them, but I really like frying them in a skillet with butter and salt & pepper. I  always use Old Bay, though. Love the stuff. I’m a Baltimore girl.

Speaking of Old Bay, they are hosting an event later this month called “A Taste of Baytriotism” with participating restaurants offering specially created menus with many dishes featuring Baltimore’s favorite condiment. I will definitely be trying some of them! How do you use Old Bay? On your fries? Popcorn? Corn on the cob? Yes, yes and yes.

Yum. And, those of you who are soft crab hold outs, get yourself to the farmers market, grocery store, seafood shop and buy some. You can find great simple recipes online if you’re not completely sure what to do with them. Easiest and most traditional, though, is the old pan fry. Here’s how I do it. (Some cooks skip the egg/flour.)

  • Dredge the soft crab in eggs and flour (I add Old Bay to the flour)
  • In a skillet on medium-high, add butter…then the soft crabs and salt & pepper
  • Let them sizzle on one side and turn (be careful that they don’t stick, but don’t turn them too often.)
  • They will be done in about 4-5 minutes.
  • Put on soft white bread (no healthy bread, please), mayo, old bay, tomato (I like sauteed onions)

And, there you have it. A quick, easy, great early summer meal. It can be a little messy…make sure you’ve got napkins nearby.

Check out Spike Gjerde’s crabwich recipe. Looks good. Rull good.

Also, I’ve used a recipe from Tyler Florence with capers in a brown butter – served over penne. Pretty much licked the plate.

Here are a two soft crab dishes I’ve enjoyed around B’more recently. Where have you had good soft crabs?

Hersh’s soft crab over roasty tomato aioli and pickled fennel
(The fennel made it perfect to me. Really.)
Corner BYOB‘s soft crab over fiddlehead ferns and garlic aioli
(Yes, I’m obsessed with fiddleheads…)
(photo from thisisgonnabegood)

And, again. Yum. If you’ve never tried a soft crab, let me make one for you. You will thank me.

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