Soft shell crabs are actually "hard-shelled crabs" that are going through the molting process. A crab’s shell is external and must therefore be shed and replaced (or "molted") as the crab grows. To initiate the molting process, the crab releases a chemical agent, which separate its old shell from the underlying skin. Over the course of several weeks, the crab then grows a new, soft, paper-like shell under the old shell. The crab then ingests enough water to bloat itself, loosening the old shell. As a result, this means that almost the entire crab can be eaten, rather than having to shell the crab to reach the meat. In the United States, the finest species of soft-shell crabs is the Blue Crab, which appears in markets from April to September, and the best source is the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Soft-shell crabs are delicious, and this recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy them. Our favorite source for ordering soft-shell, Blue Crabs from the Chesapeake Bay is Cameron’s Seafood (https://www.cameronsseafood.com/buy-seafood-online/), located in Rockville, MD. Their whale-sized (measuring 5+ inches in each crab), unbreaded, pre-cleaned, soft-shell, Blue Crabs are absolutely wonderful! We cannot recommend them more highly than we do!
No special culinary equipment is needed for the preparation of these wonderful Blue Crabs.
4 soft-shell, Blue Crabs, cleaned and if previously frozen, defrosted
¼ cup of All-purpose Flour
2 tablespoons of Cornmeal
1 tablespoon of Cornstarch
1 teaspoon of Lemon Pepper
½ cup of Lemon Juice
3 tablespoons of Butter
1 tablespoon of Capers
2 cloves of Garlic
2-½ teaspoons of the remaining Flour mixture, which is unused
1 tablespoon of Chives, finely chopped
In a shallow bowl, whisk the flour, the cornmeal, the lemon pepper, and the cornstarch. Put the soft-shell crabs into the flour mixture and shake off the excess flour mixture. In a large skillet or a sauté pan, heat half of the butter over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the soft-shell crab, shell-side down, and cook them until you have a nice color on them, which should take about 3 minutes. Turn the crabs over and cook them until crisp and golden. Remove the crabs from the pan and put them on a serving dish and remove the pan from the heat. Once the pan has cooled down a bit, return it to the heat on a low heat. Add the remaining butter and once it is melted, add the garlic as well as the capers. When the garlic is translucent, mix 2-½ teaspoons of the remaining flour mixture into the lemon juice and then add it slowly to the pan while you stir it. Once the lemon juice and flour mixture have been added to the pan, continue cooking it and stirring until the mixture begins to thicken. Then pour the mixture over the softshell crabs, sprinkle them with the chives, and serve them immediately.