My friend Megan introduced me to a few life changing things. First and foremost, my husband Jason. Secondly, the method of barbecuing a whole chicken while camping in the pouring rain, and finally, the unyielding pleasure of soft shell crab.
After vacationing together (years ago) with some friends at her family's place on Cumberland Island, we stepped off the ferry sun kissed and rested to begin the long journey home. As we finished packing the car, Megan was no where to be found. I scanned the parking lot. We waited. Minutes later she emerged from the nearby seafood shack, with a brown paper bag in her hand and a smile fit for a queen.
Once home, Megan wasted zero time tending to the brown bag. Within it awaited a pile of fresh soft shell crabs nestled in ice. She prepared them so swiftly I barely saw her move. When she motioned me over to the plate of cooked crabs and held one out, I hesitated; "You just eat the whole thing?" She nodded, still smiling. Noticing my timidness, she wisely persuaded, "Just close your eyes and eat it!" I did. And I will never be the same person. In the blind moment between plate and mouth, soft shell crabs instantly soared to the top of my "favorite foods" list. They remain there to this day. No other flavor compares. I shudder to imagine a life without soft shell crabs, and wise friends with a knack for introductions.
Sauteed Soft Shell Crab:
*As many (live) soft shell crabs as you have
*equal parts high quality cornmeal and flour (or just cornmeal) for dredging
*1-2 eggs, beaten
*ample butter for the pan
Whisk egg in a small bowl. Clean crabs (for photo instructions on cleaning, follow this link). Mix the flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish or large bowl. Dunk the crabs in the beaten egg. Dredge in flour/cornmeal mixture, coating every surface. Place crabs in a preheated cast iron pan over medium/low heat, with plenty of butter. Cover for about 1 minute. Remove cover. Cook for another minute before flipping and browning opposite side using same method. Do not over cook.
Eat straight away without hesitation. . . .with or without eyes open!
*Annemarie Colbin PH.D, founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute, reminds us in her recent book: The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones, about the importance of calcium rich foods. Included in her list of animal sources rich in bioavailable calcium and other abundant bone building minerals, are soft shell crabs! Good news for those of us who can't get enough of this seasonal delicacy.