"Ask me what seafood I like best, and I’ll tell you I love it all,” says Joe Gurrera, master fishmonger and author of the cookbook Joe Knows Fish: Taking the Intimidation Out of Cooking Seafood “Press me for an answer, and I’ll admit that one of my favorites is soft-shell crabs.”
Available from early March through September, these little beauties are succulent, decadent and, if you would believe it, not all that hard to prepare. You just have to know what you’re doing—and source the freshest ingredients.
Luckily, Gurrera also runs Citarella, a company that specializes in catching, caring for and delivering the freshest seasonal seafood to hungry cooks around the country.
“Crabs are caught in a pot, then put into open saltwater tanks, where they can be observed as they shed their shells,” he says. “This is a time-sensitive process. They have people watching ’round the clock, because the crabs shed at all times and have to be pulled from the water shortly thereafter. If not, they become a hard-shell crab.”
Today, Gurrera shares with us his sure-fire recipe for stand-out soft shell crab.
“Lightly sautéed, they turn golden and sweet, and the briny meat stays juicy,” he says. “What could be better? The key [is to not] overcook the crab. The goal is to get the soft-shell exterior nice and crispy while keeping the meat plump and tender—and yes, you eat the whole thing!"
Ready to enjoy the best seafood the northeastern United States has to offer? Don’t just take Gurrera’s word for it. Try this soft-shell crab recipe today.
Pro tip: Ask your fishmonger for whole, live, cleaned soft-shell crabs, which should be cooked within 24 to 48 hours—and ideally sooner.
Visit Citarella to order soft-shell crab and more fresh seafood from Gurrera's company, and read his cookbook Joe Knows Fish: Taking the Intimidation Out of Cooking Seafood for more recipes.
Photography by: Courtesy of Joe Gurrera