A seasonal item, soft-shell crabs are considered a delicacy that look like giant sea bugs. I’ll admit, they are pretty awesome deep-fried or sautéed, but munching on what looks like a giant spider can kinda freak people out.

If you ever wondered “what is a soft-shell crab?”, it’s a blue crab that is molting making the shell soft and the entire crustacean edible. The season runs from about April to October, and the crabs really should be enjoyed fresh. Frozen crabs aren’t bad but just don’t do it justice.

Before use, soft-shell crabs have to cleaned. It’s not hard, just disturbing. To clean:

  1. Peel back the pointed shell and scrape away the gills on each side (It only gets worse from here).
  2. Cut the eyes and mouth away from the head just behind the eyes and squeeze gently to force out the green gunk (Ouch).
  3. Bend back the fail flap and pull with a slight twisting motion to pull the intestinal vein out of the body (Nasty).
  4. The crab is now cleaned and ready for scaring the shit out of people.

Oh, also? Taking a picture of one of these really isn’t easy. It either looks like something that had its face cut off (because it did) or a blob of fried with claws (because it is). Ugh.

Know this: Be careful not to crowd the pan or it will create steam and they crabs won’t brown.
Cornmeal Crusted Soft-Shell Crabs

By Evan Kalman
Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 soft-shell crabs – cleaned
  • neutral oil – such as canola or grapeseed oil

Steps

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Reserve.

Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a medium bowl. Reserve.

Dip the cleaned crabs in milk then dredge in the cornmeal before shaking off any excess and setting aside.

Place crabs the hot oil and fry on each side for about 3 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels.

Ready to level up?

Get my exclusive newsletter on everything you need to become a rockstar food photographer, stylist & recipe developer and make money— including recipes, guides, tutorials, and more!

Reader Interactions

Talk to Me.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.