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Thread: how do you eat a soft-shell crab?

  1. #1

    Question how do you eat a soft-shell crab?

    i love crab, but have only eaten it in the form of crab legs- cracking them open and removing the sweet meat inside.

    but how do you eat a soft-shell crab? when i was in myrtle beach a few years ago, i was with a group of people who ordered soft-shell crab sandwiches. it seemed to me that they ate everything- the shell, the crab inside organs?! is this correct? if i am out and order a soft-shell crab sandwich or soft-shell crab appetizer, do i just eat every part of it? or do i avoid anything? do the cooks remove any gross "bad" things first before serving it?

    also on dungeness crab, when you get a whole crab on your plate, how do you eat it? do you just pull it apart to get to the meat?

    i would love to try it but i am not sure how to eat it and i feel a little awkward about the whole process!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    My inlaws make them all the time in season. You should buy them still alive from the fishmonger, but I think if you plan on taking them straight home and cooking them right away, you can have them kill them and gut them for you. Otherwise, you're on your own. I don't know how you go about doing that, but I'm sure someone here does.

    As far as cooking them, they're good either fried or grilled. I really like them, which puts me in FIL's good graces, because no one else in the fam will eat them.

    Oh, as far as what parts to eat, assuming that you do indeed remove the insides, you eat everything.
    "It covers your bread like a stinkyfishy tarp
    I know it isn't butter
    But I can't believe it's carp!"

    Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    sunberst, I LOVE SOFT SHELL CRABS! Being in Kansas they are a treat and I eat them whenever I get a chance (but, they are seasonal and my timing has to be just right). As far as eating them...use a knife and fork and eat the entire crab. The best soft shell crabs I have ever had have been a restaurant in Gulf Port, Mississippi. Little Bit (on the bb) can give you more pointers.

    I'm hungry!!!


  4. #4
    Had them in New Orleans and nearly FREAKED OUT when the waiter told me to eat EVERYTHING. Including the little eyeballs sticking up on posts!

    Never again...I had to cut the post-eyes off and put them on the side of my plate.

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    North of the ocean, South of the Freeway, Mississippi Gulf Coast
    Hi cjm!

    (Were you at McElroy's by chance?? I can't remember. )

    Glad you liked the crab!

    Anyhow, Yeah, when it's served in a restaurant, already cooked, just eat every bit of it. (They're VERY rich, and juicy, so be careful.)

    As for how to prepare them, here's some advice I found at:,571,00.html

    "If your fishmonger will clean the crabs for you, go for it. Otherwise, clean the crab by pulling back the top shell from the point to the center of the crab and removing the gills (the brownish fibrous layer that rests on top of the inner shell). If the top shell has an air sack in the point, gently break it with a finger. Pull off the eyes and mouth. Turn crab over and pull off the apron and intestinal vein, which is in the center of the crab bottom. Set aside."

    I don't go crabbing, and when I do see crab available for purchase, it's way too expensive to bother with, so I don't have any first hand experience that's less than 5 years old, so I'm reluctant to inflict my memories on you where cleaning is concerned. So far as I remember, the advice above sounds right, and you wind up with a crab body/legs that's devoid of yuckiness.

    (You're not supposed to keep females with roe, but sometimes it happens, what you do in that case is a mystery to me.)
    A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
    Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
    something Brussels sprouts never do.
    P. J. O'Rourke, humorist

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Little Bit-yes you're right it was at McElroy's...I couldn't remember...sure wish I had some now.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Eastern Shore of MD
    MMM. Soft crabs. Makes me yearn for summer (with all the snow and cold weather we're getting, we can't help but look forward to spring).

    I don't clean them out, my dad does. But then yes, you eat the whole thing. My favorite is dredging in flour that's been seasoned with Old Bay and thyme, then sauteeing in butter/oil combo. Not a light recipe, but delicious!
    There cannot be a crisis today. My schedule is already full.
    -Henry Kissinger

  8. #8
    thanks for the info.

    i also did some research on my own and found out that a soft shell crab is nothing but a blue crab that has shed it's hard shell and is left with only it's soft inner shell which they do about 12 times in their 3 year life span.

    i also found out that if you properly clean the crab yourself, you need to cut it's face off with scissors WHILE IT IS STILL ALIVE, then remove the brain & the apron. um, no thanks.

    i will eat it, but i won't cut it's face off! i wouldnt want someone doing that to me!

    okay, on to dungeness crabs, the kind they serve whole, do you just crack it apart and pull the meat out like you would crab legs?

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