Presently, one of the most-popular seafood delicacies many Americans enjoy is crab. Served year-round, crabs are often steamed at traditional sit-in restaurants like Red Lobster or at Chinese buffets, or specially prepared such as stuffed crab shells at local grocery stores. Either way, Americans cannot get enough of them. Despite the fact crabs are bottom-feeding crustaceans, Americans devour, on average, a quarter-pound of crab a week, as stated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
However, there is one time during the year that crab is highly-sought out and it is a time starting late spring to early summer. It is known as the soft-shell crab season and for many who are connoisseurs of soft-shell crabs, it is a time worth waiting for. Right now, the 2016 soft-shell crab season is in effect, so for all the foodies out there, what are the best ways to eat the once-a-year seafood delicacy?
Before diving into the actual list of how soft-shell crabs could be enjoyed, it is best to detail what they are in the first place. Many actually think they are an actual crab species that appears only once a year. Actually, they are the same crabs everyone eats at restaurants. The only difference is they’ve molted or removed their old shells, which have become too tight for their growing bodies, so they can develop a new shell. It takes crabs about three weeks for their new shells to fully harden. This time period is when fishermen do all they can to harvest them. The Washington Post even detailed how catching these crabs differ from traditional methods as they use a crab’s mating instincts against them.
Even fishermen in the New England area are trying to find out when the invasive crab has their molting season. If that species of crab were to be put on the menu in their soft-shell state, it would help preserve the many clams, oyster, mussels, and scallop beds the area is known for, as reported by local news outlet WBUR.
Nevertheless, soft-shell crabs are appealing among foodies because the crabs can be eaten whole, shell and all. The crab in such a state means they can be eaten in ways people would never traditionally eat crab. Thankfully, Huffington Post created a list of the best ways to eat soft-shell crab and the more-interesting ways on said list have been provided in the gallery below.
2016 Soft-Shell Crab Season Is Here! How Should Foodies Eat The Once-A-Year Seafood Delicacy?
Soft-Shell Crab Pakora Po’ Boy
More like a burger than an actual po’ boy, this is a creation by Perfect Morsel. It is a crispy, battered, golden-fried soft-shell crab served between buttery bread with a creamy dressing, slices of tomato, lettuce, onion, and pickles. [Image via Perfect Morsel]
Waffles Maryland Style
This is Maryland’s version of the southern favorite, chicken and waffles, except the chicken is exchanged for soft-shell crab. It’s a Chesapeake Bay blue crab on top of waffles. Both are savory and best eaten with hot sauce. [Image via Wild Greens and Sardines]
Panko-Crusted Soft-Shell Crab With Ginger Ponzu Sauce
This is a Japanese restaurant staple of soft-shell crabs. Covered in panko, the crabs are deep-fried and served with ginger ponzu sauce. Radish sprouts, salt, pepper, and a small amount of olive oil are given as seasoning. [Image via Rasa Malaysia]
Soft-Shell Crab Pasta
There are crab pastas already out there, but it is often avoided because of the shelling. If anyone is to shell, it should be the people wanting to eat crab in the first place. Ergo, soft-shell crab pasta is a unique delicacy because pasta lovers can enjoy crab without the work. [Image via Wishful Chef]
Tempura Soft-Shell Crab
Eventually, tempura would end up on this list. Now that the shells are soft, the crabs can be enjoyed via tempura style. Usually, regular crab meat would fall apart in the deep fry process. With the shell technically intact, they keep their form. [Image via The Hungry Excavator]
Cornmeal-Crusted Soft-Shell Crab with Buttermilk Apple and Chive Coleslaw
Another deep-fried version of soft-shell crab but using cornmeal instead. The crab and coleslaw are served between two pieces of bread so it can be eaten like a sandwich. [Image via Pitchfork Diaries]
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]