soft shell crab season

Soft shell crabs are one my very favorite foods. I look forward to soft shell crab season every year. But alas, that season is incredibly short. I often wonder though whether I’d think them so delicious were their season not so fleeting. In theory, their season lasts several months, but the reality is that it seems far shorter, particularly for we Northeasterners.

Perhaps if I could obtain soft shell crabs all the time, they would lose their appeal and become boring. I suspect that I find them delicious enough that they’d never become dull, but who knows. The important thing is to try to eat them several times while they’re available. The first time I ever had one was at Hattie’s in Saratoga, where I asked the chef to do mine fried solely in cornmeal, rather than the standard mix of cornmeal and flour. I was hooked.

I had it recently at New World Bistro Bar done in rice flour. My companions each had the soft shell crab sandwich. All were just as we could have hoped for.

But by last week, my hankering was back and I decided there was no way I was letting the season end without another crab fix. I picked up four the other night at Two Cousins in Loudonville. They weren’t exactly cheap at $5.99 a piece, but I decided they were a special treat. Besides, a friend had never tried them. And really, I couldn’t let that be the case, could I? Also, the fish monger told me the season informally ends this week.

These were done in a buttermilk bath, then dredged in a mix of cornstarch, rice flour and Old Bay seasoning. Oh, and then they were pan-fried and served up with an Asian-style red cabbage slaw and of course, some wine. Oh and a cajun remoulade. The verdict? Brilliant. Just crispy enough and in my opinion, the alternative flours worked just fine. I’m already dreaming about next year’s season.

This entry was posted in albany new york, gluten-free, recipes, seafood. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to soft shell crab season

  1. Albany Jane says:

    I’ll have to try and fit one in before the season’s done!

    I always wonder why they cost so much retail. They don’t seem much more expensive when they’re from a restaurant. I suppose this just encourages me to eat them out, though.

  2. Anonymous says:

    just because I have no clue…do you eat the whole crab? is it like finger food? thanks for the enlightenment!

  3. B says:

    You’re missing the best part of the story.

    Anon, they’re called soft shell because they’re eaten right after they’ve molted, and either have no shell (if you eat them in a few days) or a very thin, still edible, shell. There is actually no such thing as a “soft shell crab” in the sense of it being a specific crab — it’s just a crab of one of several species that has recently molted (typically blue crab, though, I believe). So yes, you eat the entire thing. Well, that’s not entirely true, you take off a few bits, including it’s FACE. While it’s alive. Nobody said this would be pretty.

  4. JMP says:

    As my roommate, B can vouch for what my face looked like as I realized my iced crab was far more alive than I’d anticipated. But I took care of him!

  5. Laura says:

    HAHA! Kinda gross…not the food – that looks amazing. But the live part, oh, I am proud of you!

  6. I grew up along coastal Virginia, right on the Chesapeake Bay, and a lot of friends and some family were watermen. They would bring crabs fresh off the boat for us all the time.

    Now, in Upstate New York, I miss them so…I would love to have some, so I must go to Cousins and forgo the price for the goodness. Thanks for the heads up.

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