The Graphic Guide to Frying a Soft Shell Crab (VIDEO)

Adriana Velez

soft shell crabDid you know -- it's soft shell crab season! Soft shell crabs, in case you're not already a member of the SSC-loving cult, are crabs that have recently shed their old shells leaving new, tender shells. Perhaps you have seen soft shell crab fans ranting through the streets, at school drop-off, at soccer games, visibly drooling at the idea of delectable deep-fried soft shelled crabs, and wondered what the fuss is all about.

I mean, look at this fried guy over here. He's kind of creepy, right?

Keep reading to find out why soft shell crab fans are hooked and how to deep fry your own.

Once a crab sheds its shell, fishermen have about two hours to scoop them up. Crabs only shed their skins from April through October, so if you see soft shell crab on the menu in December, it's been frozen. Not that that's the worst thing in the world -- soft shell crabs freeze well. It's just that the fresh ones are a special treat.

Be prepared to pay a "special" price, too. Fresh soft shell crabs will cost around $50 a dozen. But that soft shell means you can deep fry that baby whole -- claws and everything. Soft shell crab connoisseurs insist on fresh crabs, and that means crabs that are still alive. How does one dispatch with the crab? See below. Start with a shot of whiskey. You'll see why.

Yes, this is where the brave part comes in, wherein you must CUT OFF THEIR EYES. Work quickly so they don't suffer! I've been assured that by the time you finish cleaning the crab, it's dead. If this is too violent for your tastes, have your fishmonger clean the crabs for you. What's that you say -- there is no fishmonger at Costco? Oh well.

Now that you have butchered a defenseless animal in the name of dinner, you are ready to cook said creature. Soft shell crabs are wonderfully versatile. You can deep-fry them for a po' boy sandwich, saute them, or even grill them. Here are a few recipes.

The classic deep-fried recipe via Allrecipes.

Grilled soft shell crabs. You can skip the salsa recipe and top them with anything else you like -- even just melted butter and fresh lemon juice. 

Gluten-free cooks, I thought of you, too. Here's a crispy salt and pepper soft shell crab recipe that delivers the crunch of deep-fried.  

Soft shell crab season comes but once a year -- so save up your pennies and sharpen your scissors!


Image via scardey_kat/Flickr

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