A few days ago, I had a hankering for soft shell crabs. There must have been some weird instinct lingering in my brain reminding me that May and eary June is molting season for Marlyand Blue Crabs. As they grow, they shed their smaller shells. When they molt, there is a very short period of time before their soft shells harden. During that small window, whole crabs, (soft shells and all) are completely edible and delicious.
Either pan fried, sauteed, or deep fried, Michael and I adore them. Whenever we run across soft shell crabs, we order them. While at work, I followed up my hankering with a call to the Lexington Seafood Company to ask if that had any in stock. They have fresh seafood flown in regulary, so I thought I had a good shot. "Why, yes sir, we do." I was giddy, spending the rest of my day daydreaming about how I'd prepare them. As much as I love soft shell crabs, I've never made them at home. Big deal, right? Fry them, douse them with fresh lemon juice, and eat them. Easy.
After searching around for various methods and ideas for soft shell crabs, three pre-cooking procedures were consistent.
#1. Only use live soft shell crabs. Got it.
#2. Trim the apron from the underbelly to remove the gills and other junk. Check.
And......#3? Use kitchen shears to cut the faces off of the live crabs. What? Cut the faces off of the crabs? With kitchen shears? While they're alive? Are you kidding me????
It just seemed odd and weird.
Don't get me wrong, I've done my share of seafood killing for our dining pleasures.
I've peirced live lobsters between the eyes to intantly kill them before cooking. (Granted, I'll never do it again. I was in a classroom with people watching. There was pressure.) I've dropped thousands of fresh living crabs into steam pots over the years simply for the shear joy of swiping their succulent meat through drawn butter. I've killed countless live clams and mussels to toss with pastas or slurp with varied sauces. Who hasn't, really? Easy.
But, soft shell crabs with faces off? Nope. Didn't do it for me.
That day, my soft shell crab hankering morphed into soup and a salad for dinner.