When they ask me how much I love seafood, I sarcastically answer— “Yes”. So are you a seafood lover like me? Are you planning to try out the soft shell crab for the first time? Well, now is the perfect time to enjoy the delicious taste of this particular crab. The soft shell crabs are the most common blue crabs and they are caught during their molting process and that’s why, we get to enjoy the soft shell of these crabs. The appearance of soft shell crabs is most common during early summer and late spring. So before you eat them in a restaurant or buy a bunch of them to cook at home, here’s everything you need to know.
What does soft shell crab taste like?
When it comes to soft shell crabs, both the taste and texture are different than the hard shell crabs. I have tried soft shell crabs on different occasions and to best describe it, they have a very ‘crabby’ taste, a much richer taste than snow crab meat. If you’re into assertive seafood taste and unusual texture, you will love soft shell crabs.
While both hard and soft shell crabs have a sweet, salty, and bright flavor, you will notice the major difference in their textures. However, the texture depends on how the crab is cooked. As for flavors, I would say, the soft shell crab has a more fishy and earthy taste to it. To eat this specific crab, all you need to remove are the eyes and the head. Since you eat the whole soft shell crab, insides and all, it enriches the taste even more.
How to eat soft shell crab?
It can be a little overwhelming to see an entire crab served in front of you. Your first question might be, do you eat the entire thing? Or is there any rule to eating soft shell crabs? Time for a small guide to eating soft shell crabs.
Good news, you can eat the entire crab and it is super delicious. Soft shell crabs are cooked in various ways. The Maryland soft shell crabs are popular for being deep-fried. As mentioned, the texture is very unique. So, normally, when the crab is deep-fried, you will be delighted to enjoy the light crunch on the outside that gives way to the soft and buttery meat inside. The deep-fried crabs are often served as a sandwich and they are freaking scrumptious.
Remember, when the soft shell crab is deep-fried, the earthy taste gets diluted. So if you don’t like your crab to be too crabby, you should opt for the deep-fried soft shell crabs. If you’re craving the richer flavor, the sautéed soft shell crabs are the way to go. You can also try out the grilled soft shell crabs. Let’s not forget how you can add your own creativity and cook the crabs in many other different ways.
You can cook many fancy dishes with a soft shell crab. For that, you can use pastured butter, capers, and lemon. You can also cut them into pieces and fry them in panko or tempura and make a crispy delicious snack. One of my favorite ways to eat soft shell crab is frying it in panko and cooking it in ginger ponzu sauce (or just some salt and pepper to keep it simple).
If you want to eat a soft shell crab for breakfast, you can cook yourself a Maryland-style savory waffle and add this crab. Did I mention that you can even cook seafood pasta with this crab? And, yes, all of these dishes are extremely flavorful.
Is soft shell crab healthy?
The soft shell crabs are very nutritious. They are known for being highly rich in cholesterol. You can take up to 300 mg of cholesterol on a daily basis. A single soft shell crab serves about 79 mg of cholesterol which is 26.33% of the daily recommended level of cholesterol intake. So you can guess, it is pretty healthy.
You can also benefit from eating this crab as it has other nutrients that you need. Soft shell crab is packed with highly essential vitamins, such as— vitamin B6 and B12m, vitamin E and K, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and folate. Like other healthy seafood, a soft shell crab is loaded with many dietary minerals. This includes calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus. What’s more can you ask? If you eat a soft shell crab every day, that will be good for your health.
Are soft shell crabs cleaned before cooking?
Most sea creatures require cleaning before cooking. The same goes for soft shell crabs. Without cleaning, the crab will have a much more intense and unpleasing crabby smell. So before you get your knife ready, give your soft shell crab a quick rinse under cold running water to get rid of any dirt or debris. You can use a soft bristle brush to clean the folds.
To prepare it for cooking, put on a pair of gloves and grab a sharp and clean pair of kitchen shears. With that shears, snip off the front part of the soft shell crab, about half-inch behind the eyes and the mouth. Once that is cut, squeeze on the crab head and discard the gooey matter that was inside.
Soft shell crab vs Snow crab
There isn’t much difference between Snow crab and soft crab except for their shell hardness and meat texture. The taste is quite similar once they are fried or grilled with proper seasoning. As mentioned, soft-shelled crabs have a delicate creamy texture and as for flavor, it is extremely rich which makes them a mouth-watering treat. However, you won’t find the snow crab to be too buttery that it will melt in your mouth. Rather they are meaty so you need to chew them enough.
It’s very hard to describe how amazing the taste is. Out of all the soft shell crab dishes I have tried, I love the golden and crisp fried ones the best. Do not consume them by boiling as the flavor would just fall apart. Add any seafood seasoning to your choice and add in your cooking creativity. That’s my two cents on soft shell crabs.