Q:

How do you eat soft-shell crabs?

A:

Quick Answer

Soft-shell crabs are eaten with their shells intact because the exterior is delicate. The crabs are prepared in many ways, including pan frying. The crabs should be eaten the day they are cleaned.

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Full Answer

Flour, eggs, panko bread crumbs, vegetable oil, salt and pepper are required for this 15-minute recipe.

  1. Heat the oil

    Add enough vegetable oil to a large skillet so that 1/2 inch of oil covers the bottom. Heat on a medium-high setting until the oil bubbles.

  2. Prepare the batter

    While the oil is heating, add 1/2 cup flour to a shallow bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. Crack two eggs into a second shallow bowl, and whisk them. Add panko bread crumbs to a third shallow bowl.

  3. Batter the crabs

    Run each crab through the flour and then into the beaten eggs. Dip both sides of the coated crab into the bread crumbs.

  4. Cook the crabs

    When the oil is ready, place the coated crabs in the pan with the shells facing down. Cook about four minutes on each side, turning when the crabs are golden brown. Enjoy the crabs on their own, or use a bun to make a sandwich.

Soft-shell crabs are actually hard-shell crabs in the process of shedding their shells, and their bodies are tender. Fishermen capture these crabs before they lose their shells. The crabs are confined in tanks of water, and once they have molted, they are removed from the water and packed in damp straw or seaweed so the shell cannot harden again.

Fresh soft-shell crabs should not be eaten if they have a strong odor. Frozen soft-shell crabs are usually already cleaned. If the crabs are fresh, the shell must be cut behind the eyes, and the gills and the bottom part of the shell also need to be removed. If broiled or fried, the crabs are cooked for four minutes on each side. Crabs are grilled for five minutes on each side. Pan-fried crabs can be lightly floured and cooked in a pan full of butter, olive oil, white wine, lemon juice, a teaspoon of tiny capers, chopped parsley, salt and cracked pepper, which create a seasoned sauce.

Deep-fried crabs can be coated in flour, cornmeal, a small amount of garlic powder, a greater amount of black pepper and a dash of cayenne. They can also be stuffed with mushroom duxelle, which is a mixture of chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs, and breaded with Parmesan crumbs. To avoid splatter when deep-frying, pins are pushed through the claws and legs. Deep-fried crabs are often served in a sandwich on a toasted roll with lettuce and tomato and either mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

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