Chesapeake Soft Shell Crabs – the Hard Truth

February 17th, 2011 • No Comments

This video comes from an “I Love Crab” cooking class I organized at TasteDC in the Summer of 2007 with Chef Brian Boots of Elegance ala Carte.

In the Maryland/Chesapeake area, we love soft shell crabs, here known simply as “Softshells” – you can buy them frozen, but I think they come from Vietnam and its actually a different species of crab, but for a few months in the Summer every year you can get fresh ones. In order to clean a softshell, you want to cut the lungs out..and cut off the head with shears/scissors..yes, I’ve seen them served with the head on, but they taste better with it off! When it comes to wine, crab meat is very sweet and light, so a crisp white wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc works great, but a cool pilsener works too – generally throw out the rules with softshells, especially because they’re almost always fried in a rich fat and that adds weight and flavor.

Here’s some info on how to clean Softshells from Cooking Light – Cleaning Info.

Recipe from TasteDC’s I Love Crabmeat Cooking Class
with Chef Brian Boots, Elegance ala Carte
Saturday August 25th, 2007

Mango and Guava Glazed Soft Shell Crabs

3 T Olive Oil
1 T minced and peeled fresh ginger
2 T minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup Mirin
1 ¼ cups guava nectar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb soft shell crabs
½ c Julienned basil
3 T Old Bay

Cooking Directions: In a skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add the shallots, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mango; continue to sauté until mango is tender. Add the Mirin and guava nectar. Reduce by half. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to form a glaze. Season soft shell crabs with Old Bay. Add to the glaze and cook until crabs are done, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions, basil and salt and pepper.

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