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Technique Tuesday: How to Clean Soft Shell Crabs


It's soft shell crab season!  From mid-May to early September for the east coast, and longer if you are near the gulf coast, we are in the time of year when these sweet, oceany delicacies are popping up practically all over.

Soft shell crabs are regular crabs who have outgrown their current hard exoskeleton, and have shed it as most crustaceans do.  Within a few hours their new, soft under-skeleton starts to harden if they remain in the ocean's cold water.  But if caught during that precious window, the shell is soft enough where the entire animal, shell and all, is tender enough to be consumed.  Not only are they plump and sweet and briny, but you get all of that delectable crab goodness without having to deal with cracking and mallets and bits of flying shell.  It also allows for pretty cool whole crab presentations.

There are a few small bits of the crab that need to be removed (or cleaned or dressed) before cooking and eating.  Your fishmonger can generally do this for you, but ideally it should be done right before cooking to maintain maximum freshness.  It is just four simple steps, and worth trying yourself. (more…)


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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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