Sautéed Soft-Shell Crabs

July 25, 2018 Updated: July 25, 2018

Sautéed Soft-Shell Crabs

Ask me what seafood I like best and I’ll tell you I love it all. Press me for an answer and I’ll admit that one of my favorites is soft-shell crabs. On the East Coast, soft-shell crabs are available early March through September. Crabs are caught in a pot, then put into open saltwater tanks, where they can be observed as they shed their shells. This is a time-sensitive process. They have people watching ’round the clock because the crabs shed at all times and have to be pulled from the water shortly thereafter—if not they become a hard-shell crab. These crustaceans can molt up to an impressive twenty-three times in eighteen to twenty-four months.

Lightly sautéed, they turn golden and sweet, and the briny meat stays juicy. What could be better? The key…don’t overcook the crab. The goal is to get the soft-shell exterior nice and crispy while keeping the meat plump and tender. And yes, you eat the WHOLE thing!

Ask your fishmonger for whole, live, cleaned soft-shell crabs, which should be cooked within 24 to 48 hours—and ideally sooner.

Makes 2 servings

  • 4 whole live soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup Wondra flour or all-purpose flour
  • About 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse the crabs with cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Dust the crabs with flour by sprinkling a light layer onto each side and shaking off any excess.

Pour a very thin layer of olive oil into a large shallow skillet and heat over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Sauté the crabs for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from “Joe Knows Fish,” © 2018 by Joe Gurrera. Reproduced by permission. All rights reserved.

“Joe Knows Fish: Taking the Intimidation Out of Cooking Seafood” by Joe Gurrera ($24.99).