Soft-Shell Crabs

What is it: While these critters are technically still Blue Crabs, they’re a different seafood experience. Every so often, these Crabs will shed their shells in order to grow, but if they’re scooped out of the water before the shell can harden, they remain in this soft state. A smaller window for harvesting, not to mention a fresher taste and a unique texture, means that Soft-Shell Crabs are considered a delicacy of Southern seafood.

When to Get it: Timing is the tricky part with Soft-Shell Crabs—for both Crab fishermen and seafood lovers alike. The Blue Crab is only in its softer outfit for four hours or so, and they only go through this process a certain time each year. Scientists at places like the University of Alabama at Birmingham are trying to cook up a key to make this process a year-round event, but until that happens, look for Soft-Shell Crabs in the late spring and early summer.

Where Does it Come From: Soft-Shell Crabs can be found anywhere that Blue Crabs call home. If you’re brave enough, you can track down a few of your own as long as there’s a light wind, a low tide, and a bright moon.

How it’s Prepared: Like most seafood, Soft-Shell Crabs can be grilled or sautéed, but these guys are best when fried. All it takes is a proper cleaning before breading it and throwing the whole thing—shell and all—into a frying pan. Once it’s done, slide it between a couple slices of French bread and you’ve got what the locals call a “spider sandwich.”