Soft shells are back!

Soft shell crabs are in!  I was so happy to see them at Graul’s this weekend (and even happier that they were on sale!)  I made the Thai curry soft crabs last night.  This is out of this world fantastic and worth a trip to the Asian market for the specialty ingredients.  (I’ve starred the specialty ingredients.)  If you don’t have time to get to an Asian market but the thought of soft shells makes your mouth water I offer two other recipes that I’ve used successfully.  Happy summer!

Thai curry soft crabs

  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass*, chopped
  • 3 – 4 Kaffir lime leaves*, inner vein removed and finely minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 – 2 TB chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)*
  • 1 tsp ground dried roasted Thai chili peppers*
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 bunch basil chopped
  • 2 – 3 soft shell crabs per person, cleaned
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/s tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with 1 TB water
  • vegetable or canola oil

Combine cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon stick in a dry pan and heat over medium heat, tossing about 3-4 minutes.  Flavors should combine and smell fantastic!  Cool and grind together with a mortar and pestle.

In a heavy pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute about 1 minute until just turning golden.  Add lemongrass, lime leaves, chili paste, turmeric and chili peppers.  Stir in ground spices.  Add coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce.  Stir and reduce heat while crabs cook.

Combine flour, salt, pepper and remaining cumin an a shallow plate or pan.  In another plate or pan, combine water and egg.  Dry soft shells and dip in egg, then flour mixture.  Heat 2 TB oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook crabs (top shell down first) until done – about 3 – 4 minutes a side.  (Cover pan with a lid, crabs will spatter!  I have a burn scar on my arm from spattering hot crab.)

Add cooked crabs to sauce mixture and toss so they are well coated with sauce.  Serve over rice.  Enjoy!  This is now my husband’s favorite – edging out the soft crabs with mustard seed sauce which is what I fixed for him the night he proposed.


Thai curry soft crabs

Thai curry soft crabs

Soft Shell Crab Salad

  • Soft shell crabs, cleaned (1 -2 per person)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Panko (1 cup)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil
  • Salad greens (I use Mache but your choice and availability)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Pesto

Preheat oven to 450.  Wash greens and arrange on plates.

Whisk together Mayonnaise and Pesto.  Taste and adjust to suit.

Dip soft crabs in egg and then panko.  In a non-stick saucepan over medium heat, swirl in oil.  Cook crabs starting wit the shell side down.  Cover pan to avoid spattering.  After 4 minutes, toss to other side.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.  Remove to a baking sheet (cover baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) and transfer to oven for 5-6 minutes.  (This sets the meat.)

Top each salad with 1 -2 crabs.  Drizzle with Pesto dressing and sprinkle with halved grape tomatoes.  Serve.  Here is a picture:

Soft shell crabs with mustard seed sauce

  • 2 soft crabs per person, cleaned
  • Wondra flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 2 TB peanut oil
  • 1 TB yellow mustard seed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 TB butter

Preheat oven to 450.  Combine Wondra, paprika and peppers in a shallow dish or pie plate.  Dredge crabs in mixture.  In a heavy saucepan, heat peanut oil until hot.  Place crabs shell side down and cook about 3 minutes (cover pan with lid – crabs can spatter).  Flip crabs and cover pan again.  After 3 more minutes remove crabs and place on a baking sheet (I cover mine with aluminum foil to ease clean up).  Bake at 350 for about 7 minutes.

While crabs are cooking in oven, add white wine and lemon juice to pan and increase heat to high.  Stir in any cooked on bits from pan.  Add mustard seed and cook until reduced.  Turn heat to low and swirl in butter.  Remove crabs from oven and top with sauce and serve.  Enjoy.


About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

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