Soft Shell Crabs are Here!

Holy shit.

These are delicious.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Fried Soft Shell Crabs with Warm Honey Mustard Potato Salad with Bacon and Arugula

Serves 2 main courses or 4 appetizer portions

  • 4 soft shell crabs, cleaned (see additional info under my notes)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Potato Salad (recipe below)
  • Reserved Honey Mustard Dressing for drizzling (recipe below)

Cleaned crabs ready to be cooked.

Set up breading station:  One shallow dish with milk, one shallow dish with seasoned flour (add a nice portion of salt and pepper to it), and a plate or sheet pan to hold crabs until you are ready to fry them.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

To (lightly) bread crabs, put crabs in milk to soak them through, turning once so both sides get milky.  Transfer to seasoned flour and dredge on both sides, getting into their claws.  Lightly shake off excess flour.  Set on clean plate/sheet pan until ready to fry.

Lightly breaded crabs.

Heat  a heavy pan (I used a cast iron pan) over medium high to high heat.  Add butter and oil and let it get hot.  Add crabs to pan.  I was able to easily fit all 4 crabs to one pan, but just make sure you don’t over-crowd your pan (makes the heat go down and wont crisp up nicely).  Add crabs top-shell side down first.  Fry about 2-3 minutes until nicely golden brown.  Turn over and fry another 2 minutes.  Transfer to oven to finish cooking crabs for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove crabs from oven and place on paper towel lined plate/sheet pan and lightly season with salt.

Add some potato salad to plate, top with 2 crabs (if serving entree portions), and finish with a little drizzle of honey mustard.

Warm Honey Mustard Potato Salad with Bacon and Arugula

  • About 3/4 pounds fingerling potatoes, sliced in half long ways
  • 6 slices bacon, diced into 1/4 inch
  • 1 cup fresh baby arugula
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons mayo

Add fingerlings to large pot and cover with water by at least an inch or two.  Salt well.  Put on stove on high heat and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce heat to closer to medium/medium high (just above simmering, so its not boiling like crazy which can be rough on the potatoes and make their skins rip off).  Cook about 12-15 minutes, or until tender.  Keep an eye on them and taste them along the way if necessary so you don’t overcook them.

Drain potatoes into a colander.  Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Set aside to drain and cool off a bit.  (Note this potato salad is a warm, not hot, potato salad.  Essentially, I like it to be somewhat close to room temp.)

As potatoes are cooking, cook bacon in a pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they have rendered their fat and are starting to turn crispy brown.  Drain and reserve bacon for later.  (I actually save my bacon grease for later use.  I just keep adding it to a mason jar in the fridge.  Healthy!)

To make dressing, combine 1 tablespoon vinegar, both mustards, honey, and lemon juice.  Mix up well.  Mix in mayo.  Slowly whisk in olive oil  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble potato salad, combine fingerlings, bacon, arugula, and all but about 4-5 tablespoons of dressing. (But, eye it, too, because you don’t want to over-do the dressing)  You can use the remaining dressing to drizzle over your crab.

Warm Honey Mustard Potato Salad with Bacon and Arugula

My Notes:

  • Cleaning soft shells is not for everyone.  It is a bit akin to cooking live lobsters.  You buy the crabs live.  You clean them live.  You practically cook them live.  The good news is, they don’t make any sounds.  You have to cut off their face, cut off their tails, and then you take your scissors and stab into their body cavity to pop their lungs so they don’t explode and spray grease everywhere when you cook them.  Yes, this sounds incredibly horrible, even torturous.  I have probably cleaned and cooked over 200 soft shell crabs in the past (they were a BIG menu item seller when they were in season), but it has now been a few years since I last had to.  The other day cooking them I was a bit hesitant about it and actually started to feel kinda bad about it.  But then I got over it.  And ate them greedily.  And will probably buy more and do it all again.

3 responses to “Soft Shell Crabs are Here!

  1. Insanely jealous right now. (Landlocked state and all.)Those look amazing!

  2. Definitely in the top 3 best meals you gave made. We have to get more crabs before the season is over.

  3. Did you get these at Roberts last week? I was there on Thursday and saw they had live soft shells–they were still moving around and it just creeped me out. I prefer what I cook to be dead before I cook it (except for oysters but they aren’t really alive–just sucking oxygen, right?). I had no idea you had to go through what you did to cook them. I couldn’t have done it. But I have no doubt that I could have maxxed those boogers once they were cooked! LOL

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