Come this time of the year, many seafood lovers want to know how to best to handle in-season soft-shell crabs. Pricey – and a delicacy – soft-shell crabs should be alive when you purchase them, so look for the liveliest ones at the market. You can ask the folks at the market to dress (clean) the crabs for you, or you may clean them yourself, but for a sweet, fresh-from-the sea flavor, be sure to clean live soft-shell crabs just before you are ready to cook them. It’s best not to mask the subtle flavor of soft-shell crabs with elaborate recipes, so simply sautéing them is a good method of preparation, enhanced with nothing more than a splash of fresh lemon juice and a smattering of minced parsley. As a side dish, it’s hard to beat fresh asparagus, also in season, scrumptious brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of coarse sea salt and charred to a rich mahogany brown. Plan to allow two medium/large soft-shell crabs per person as part of meal, with one “jumbo” crab ample for a satisfying sandwich, comprised of a toasted bun and toppings such as tomatoes, lettuce and homemade tartar sauce. Soft-shell crabs cook quickly, about four minutes per side depending on their size, and should be served immediately after cooking for optimum flavor. Glorious and mouthwateringly delectable, soft-shell crabs are in season. Buy them now. Buy them live. And, eat them for as long as you can.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.