Maryland Soft Shell Crabs (FROZEN)

Maryland Soft Shells

Soft Shells serve as a delicious delicacy!

Crabbers have a keen eye for crabs ready to bust out of their shells, called molting. Young, immature crabs molt frequently to reach adult sized measurements. So, the small crabs get special grading to catch them in ”the act.” A crab without the hard shell takes the difficulty out of the feast. The only preparation is a “cleaning and dressing” where the inedible mouth parts, gills, and abdomen are snipped away. Most chefs prefer a flash frozen soft shell for the cooking calendar ease.  

The attention to timing and how to bring the soft shell to the table requires skillful routines. The crabber quickly places a crab ready to molt in a tank on board the boat and transfers them into a larger tank, back at the dock. Biologically filtered tanks keep the “busters” healthy as they enter into the molting stage. At that instant, the crabber must “harvest” the crab since he only has about a 3 hour window until the crab begins to grow a new shell, which takes away from the delicacy of eating jumbo, lump, and claw meat without a shell. This surprise catch fills the pots throughout the warmer months from mid-April until mid-October. Once the weather turns cold, the chance of potting a soft shell becomes less. The detailed routine in harvesting a soft shell and the incredible reality of eating the entire crab, minus a few parts, makes this dish a true delicacy. Try sautéing, grilling, or even deep frying to add your personal “chef touch” to a bay “must have!” 

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