Soft shell crab is a uniquely American seafood delicacy where the whole crab may be eaten. As the water temperature on the Eastern seaboard rises, the native blue crabs grow in size and they must shed their hard shells to grow another. During this time, they have a soft exterior that is completely edible and enjoyed by seafood lovers everywhere. The crabs should be prepared and enjoyed within about four days of shedding their hard exterior shells. Crabbers must work quickly because if the crabs remain in the water for even a few hours after shedding, the new hard shells begin to form quickly. To ensure freshness, many fishermen will catch the crabs and set them aside while they molt in order to be able to bring them to market at exactly the right time.
The longer the crabs are out of the water, the less sweet and intense they taste. This is why the chefs at the Oceanaire Seafood Room go to great lengths to insure they are getting the very freshest crabs for their guests, caught by licensed fishermen who adhere to high standards of sourcing. This practice helps ensure the crabs are at their liveliest, freshest and softest, resulting in the best tasting soft shell crab available. In the United States, the most common soft shell is from the native blue crab (“callinectes sapidus”), which live in colder waters along the Eastern seaboard. The Chesapeake Bay area, along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, is well known for producing an excellent supply of soft shell blue crabs.
“We are pleased to be able to provide delicious soft shell crabs to our guests” says Oceanaire Executive Chef Adam Newton. “They are consistently one of our seasonal favorites and many of our guests look forward to this time of year to satisfy their soft shell craving.”
For more information, visit www.theoceanaire.com.