This method brings out a slightly smoky flavor
Soft-shell crab is a culinary term for a recently molted crab that has shed its hard exoskeleton and has a soft, edible outer shell. During this brief period, almost all the crab is edible, save the mouthparts, the gills and the abdomen, which, though edible, are discarded. The remaining parts are typically deep-fried, sautéed, steamed or grilled.
In the United States, the main species is blue crab, which appears in market from April to September.
You might have a favorite way of cooking soft-shell crab. But if you haven’t grilled them and would like to try something different that’s super easy and gives crab a sweet and slightly smoky flavor, give this recipe a crack.
GRILLED SOFT-SHELL CRAB
2 medium to large soft-shell crabs per person if served as an entrée or 1 crab per person if an appetizer. This recipe calls for 8 crabs to serve 4 people.
½ stick (4 tablespoons) melted butter
1 clove finely minced garlic (optional)
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges for serving
Optional sauces for serving: tartar, aioli, romesco or red sauce.
Clean crabs just before cooking by rinsing with cold water, using kitchen shears to remove eyes and mouth by cutting off the first quarter inch of the face. At this point you also can remove the organs just behind the mouth. This is a matter of choice. Next, lift the pointed side of the crab and cut out the spongy off-white gills underneath. Finally, turn the crab on its back and cut off the triangular or T-shaped apron flap. It’s larger on the female and narrower on the male.
Grill over medium high heat using a charcoal or gas grill. Brush both sides of the crab with butter or oil and season to taste with salt.
If using a charcoal grill, cook uncovered turning every 2 minutes and brushing with more butter often until the shell turns orange and splotchy and crab is cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes based on crab size. If using a gas grill, use the same procedure but with the top down, still turning over every 2 minutes and brushing with butter. Time on the gas grill runs from 7-10 minutes.
If you like a little heat, stir in a tablespoon of hot sauce to the butter. Soft-shell crabs also make great po-boys.