Soft Shell Crabs

Soft Shell Crabs … if you have never had them, now is the time to give them a try!

Soft shell crabs are one of my favorite treats. They are only available for a couple of months each year – usually late April through June or July. Soft shell crabs are crabs that have just molted. Their shell is soft … allowing them to be eaten whole. No more need to pick out that coveted meat from a hard shell!

Soft shell crabs fresh from the Gulf are now available. I picked some up last weekend at my local farmers market. Each week Paradise Seafood drives fresh Gulf seafood up from the coast to sell at the Memphis Agricenter Farmers Market and the Memphis Farmers Market downtown. Living in Memphis, we are lucky that the Gulf coast is within driving distance.  If you live no where near a coast line, no worries. You can find soft shell crabs throughout the country at gourmet seafood markets. Just ask your fishmonger.

Soft shell crabs are ideally purchased live so they are at their freshest. Store live soft shell crabs uncovered in the fridge over a bed of wet paper towels for no more than one day. Live soft shell crabs will need to be cleaned. It is a really simple process but a necessary one.  Cooking Light Magazine has an excellent post with step by step instructions. Click here.

If you do have to buy frozen crabs, they have probably already been cleaned. Defrost them overnight in the refrigerator before cooking. Fresh is best but the frozen ones are a close second.

I find the best way to enjoy this seasonal treat is sautéed with a simple dusting of cornmeal.  No need for a deep fryer or heavy batter. Whip up a quick homemade remoulade sauce and from start to finish your soft shell crabs can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.


Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs with Remoulade Sauce

For the Remoulade Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions

For the Soft Shell Crabs:
8 soft shell crabs, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons olive oil

To make the Remoulade Sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Soft Shell Crabs:

Season both sides of the crabs with salt and pepper. Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, lightly dredge both sides of the crabs in the cornmeal, shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the crabs on one side until lightly browned and soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over the crabs and cook until desired doneness, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve warm with a spoonful of the remoulade sauce.

Serves 4.

Do-Ahead: The remoulade dipping sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until just before serving.

2 Responses to “Soft Shell Crabs”

  1. 1 Chelsea Eats Treats May 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Yum Yum Yummmmmm I love soft shelled crabs. They always mean summer is here 🙂

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Jennifer Chandler

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