I LOVE soft shell crab!! Besides being succulent, soft-shells are clean: they stop eating three days before molting, so their digestive systems are purified when the watermen retrieve them from the floats where they’re kept.
Where I live, there’s pretty much no way that I can get fresh live Soft Shell Crab. Subsequently, that means that I’ve never had to clean them, because where I get them, they’ve been cleaned and flash frozen. Honestly, I don’t even know the first thing about cleaning, or ‘dressing’ a soft shell crab.
But, for those of you who are lucky enough to have access to fresh seafood, after doing a bit of research on the internetz, I’ve found some pretty good instructions on cleaning Soft Shell Crab via the Cooking Light website.
1. To clean soft-shell crabs, hold the crab in one hand, and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the front of the crab, about 1/2 inch behind the eyes and mouth. Squeeze out the contents of the sack located directly behind the cut you just made.
2. Lift one pointed end of the crab’s outer shell; remove and discard the gills. Repeat on the other side.
3. Turn the crab over and snip off the small flap known as the apron. Rinse the entire crab well and pat dry. Once cleaned, crabs should be cooked or stored immediately.
(after that description, I’m very happy that I get them cleaned and flash frozen)
Now, I’ve heard that some people get kinda grossed out by eating the intestines…etc. It’s never bothered me, but if it bothers you, then I’ve been told of a simple solution.
After cleaning, using the directions above, simply cut the body in half from the eyes (or where they were positioned) to the back. Then gently remove them innards.
4 soft shell crabs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup clarified butter
After the crabs have been cleaned, and before cutting in half (if you’re doing it that way), soak the crabs in the buttermilk for about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, mix together the flour, panko, old bay, and pepper in a platter for dredging.
Heat the butter for frying.
After the crabs are done marinating (if you’re cutting in half to gently remove the intestines, this is the time to do it); working with 1 crab at a time; remove and let the excess buttermilk drain off then dredge in the flour mixture. Make sure they’re coated well.
Add each crab to the butter and cook until the shell looks pink, and the coating is nicely browned. If cooking more than 1 at a time, don’t overcrowd the pan.
Now…you can either make yourself a ‘po boy and dress it up nicely… or simply plate the crab and eat it with a little remoulade sauce. Recipe below.
Yields about 2 cups
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup green onion, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
3 tbsp creole mustard
3 tbsp yellow mustard
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. Let flavors marry in the refrigerator before using.
print this recipe here