Why Crab, Your Shell, It Is So Soft

The nice thing about being an amateur gourmet is that I am an amateur gourmet. By that, I mean, I have no accountability. Sort of like being an amateur doctor. “Oops,” you can say, “I swapped your liver with your spleen! Sorry!”

Lacking accountability allows me to discuss things I know nothing about without any fear of repercussions. “Why you blasted gourmet!” you can say, to no avail. “Your misinterpretation of vichyssoise ruined my Bar Mitzvah!”

Tonight, then, I ate a soft-shelled crab. I know nothing about soft-shelled crabs. I’ve never eaten one before.

Lauren and I went to dinner with our friends Hetal and Andrew:

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Because we were going to see “Shrek 2,” we decided to eat in the mall. And as you already know, the Phipps mall is home to Twist (where I ate with my parents and brother graduation weekend). So we ate there.

The menu there is eclectic, to say the least. Sushi, Tapas and Salads For Two mix awkwardly on four overstuffed pages of options. It’s like EPCOT jammed into one menu. We all read our menus like novels. Then the waiter told us the specials:

“Blah blah blah,” he said, “And also blah blah blah. Then there’s the soft-shelled crab.”

My ears perked up. I had never had a soft-shelled crab. I run an internationally-acclaimed website where millions of readers thrive off my every experience–I must eat this for them.

“I’ll have that,” I said boldly.

“Very good,” said the waiter, running to the kitchen, failing to take anyone else’s order.

“Hey!” said Hetal, “I’m hungry too.”

“Quiet woman,” I snapped, “Don’t you know who I am?”

Moments later, the waiter returned with this–my soft-shelled crab:

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I dug in immediately. Andrew, Hetal and Lauren watched with watery eyes that reflected the emptiness in their stomachs.

“Mmmm!” I announced. “This is delicious!”

The batter was nice and flavorful. And the crab–every square inch of it–was remarkably edible. No pesky shell to crack through, no weird parts to scrape aside. I finished almost as quickly as I had started.

“Ahhh!” I said, “What a treat! Who’s ready for a movie?”

Andrew, Hetal and Lauren keeled over dead from starvation. I saw Shrek 2 alone.

3 comments

  1. Huh. As a Marylander and Blue Crab purist, I have to say, you were hornswoggled, sir! There are really only three ways to properly consume ye olde Callinectes sapidus. 1) Steamed with Old Bay seasoning. 2) Crab cakes with worcestershire sauce. 3) Soft shelled and fried. If any batter is applied, it should be a thin veneer at most. You should hardly notice it save for a slight added crispiness, but usually it should be avoided. Serve either plain or on bread with worcestershire sauce.

    Over-battering in my experience kills some of the great shell flavor. But, as I said, I’m a Baltimorean purist in these matters (e.g. nothing gets my blood boiling like Dungeness crab cakes claiming to be just as good as good ole’ blue crab or blue crab cakes which are really stuffing with a little bit of crab thrown in for texture), so you’ll have to excuse me…

  2. And lest I come off as too cantakerous – soft shelled crab is truly one of the great delights of the world. I’m glad you enjoyed this presentation – come on up to a good old Maryland crab house and we’ll show you how it’s really done, and you’ll never be the same man again. Damnit, now I want crab, and I’m on the wrong coast!

  3. 4) For that shell taste there’s little better than just peeling the top off, and chucking it straight over coals on the barbie.

    What is this synchronicty with Soft Shelled Crabs, two months ago I’d never heard of them, now they’re everywhere I turn.

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