Grilled Soft Shell Crab
What are soft shell crabs? Are they a different species of crab? What is so special about them? Let’s talk a little bit about our star ingredient and then dive into a grilled soft shell crab recipe.
Soft shell crab is the culinary term for crabs that have recently molted their hard shell and are very soft inside and out. The crabs form an inner soft shell underneath their hard shell and then swell their body to break the hard-outer shell. They then slowly crawl out from under their old shell and leave it behind. It takes a couple of days for the new shell to fully harden.
Soft shell crab season is usually from about early April to early September, give or take a couple of weeks on either end. The crabs should be removed from the water as soon as they molt so that their shell doesn’t have time to harden, about 12 hours or less. One of the benefits of eating crab this way is that you don’t have to dig around for the meat or suck it out of the shell, you can eat the entire cleaned crab!
In the United States, soft shell crabs are typically blue crabs. They have a buttery flavor that is unmatched by any other type of crab. The need for hibernation is why Maryland blue crabs taste better, as they must build up fat stores to get them through the dormant period.
At Cameron’s Seafood, we sell our Maryland soft shell crabs in half-dozen, one dozen, and two dozen portions. The crabs are pre-cleaned before they are frozen with dry ice, for your cooking convenience.
If you plan on catching your own soft shell crabs, make sure you clean them before consumption.
Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your soft shell crabs:
1: Rinse the crabs under cool running water.
2: Cut off the heads of the crabs about ¼ inch behind the eyes, using kitchen shears.
3: Twist off and discard the apron (the triangular shell underneath the crab) of each one.
4: Turn up the pointy sides of the top shells and expose the gills and remove them.
Now your crabs are ready to cook and eat.
Grilled soft shell crabs are simple to make, you don’t need many ingredients and grilling gives the meat a sweet and smoky flavor. We like this delicious recipe for grilled soft shell crab from the legendary Emeril Lagasse. It requires only a few ingredients and takes less than half an hour to make.
Grilled Soft Shell Crab
- 6 Cameron’s Maryland soft shell crabs thawed
- cup ¼olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ lemon juiced
- Preheat your grill to medium-high with the lid down to keep in the heat.
- Brush each crab with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice. Set the crabs on the grill and close the lid. Basting them with the remaining olive oil, cook the crabs for 4-5 minutes on each side depending on the size. The crabs should be orange and cooked through.
- Grilled soft shell crabs are very tasty and can act as the star in a wide-variety of dishes.
Buy Maryland Soft Shell Crabs Online
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By: Melanie Craighead
Image Credit: Dare to Eat a Peach