Monday, May 23, 2005

A Good Reason to Be Crabby!

It's soft-shell crab season again, which means summer is almost here. To really appreciate them, try them sauteed with butter and toasted almonds. But you must get them fresh, which means live (like raw clams or oysters). Do not buy them pre-cleaned--there's no way to tell how old they are at that point. According to my hub, they're quite easy to clean and prep once you know the technique.

We first ate them prepared this way at my favorite restaurant, L'Auberge Chez Francois, in Great Falls, Virginia. (I haven't been in several years, since I no longer live in the D.C. area, but I hear it's just as wonderful as ever.) I'd only had softshells deepfried before that meal--and what a revelation!

Now we wait for softshell season and buy them at Roche Bros. grocery store for about $2.99 apiece. With some asparagus and a nice salad, it's the best of late spring eating. Also, most softshells come from the mid-Atlantic region, particularly Virginia, so it's like a little bit of my old home in my new home.

3 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Ok, now my mouth is watering. Soft-shells are wonderful. ...as are hard-shelled blue crabs with Old Bay(tm) seasoning.

The Cambridge location of Jasper White's Summer Shack does "Chesapeake-style" crabs every Wednesday evening...although they're not always blue crabs. :-(
And I'd be surprised if they're not serving soft shells nightly during the short season.

I too grew up around the Chesapeake and love them critters. --Tables covered with paper, a mound of steamed crabs smoothered in Old Bay piled in the center, an entire roll of paper towels, wooden mallets, and pitchers of ice cold beer. Heaven.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

You're gonna make me cry, David! (Nostalgia will do that to you. Or to me, anyway.)

For those of you who've never had the joy of plowing through a mound of crabs as David describes: Part of the fun of eating blue crabs comes from the knowledge that at the end of the night you'll be covered with little nicks on your fingers from the claws, your shirt will be covered with bits of crab and seawater, you'll be burning off more calories than you take in because of the sheer work of digging out the meat--and it's worth it all.

A truly unique American dining experience, especially if you're lucky enough also to have really fresh sliced tomatoes, hot fresh corn, good cold beer, and friendly company to share it all.

Heaven, indeed.

10:42 AM  
Blogger David said...

I went to the Summer Shack last night. While I like the place, I wouldn't go there looking for blue crab nostalgia. For example, last night their Smashing Crab Special was Joanh crabs...and the waitstaff (which is often bad) brought them out covered in plastic wrap!?!

...but not to me. When I learned they were not blue crabs I ordered something else.

But I also did not get the soft shell crabs. They only had them prepared one way last night--in a crust of sesame seeds, and I've been disappointed in Jasper White's attempts at Asian influenced dishes one too many times before.

The Wellfleets I had were really 'bright' and tasty though. That's something SFNE for ya: Oysters. They seem to be best when taken from cold water. All the oysters I've gotten in Florida and Louisiana have been bland in comparison.

7:59 AM  

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