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Soft Shell Crabs

Select soft shell crabs that are guaranteed fresh and alive and not already packaged in cellophane.


  • Four soft shell crabs
  • 1 cup butter milk or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4-inch conola oil (or other light tasting vegetable oil)

  In one shallow dish, pour one cup of buttermilk or whole milk.  In another shallow dish, combine ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornmeal. Best in the buttermilk for a few minutes. 

While the crabs are soaking, begin to heat ¼-inch of canola (or other light tasting vegetable oil) in a heavy steel pan that is large enough to hold all four shellfish without crowding.  (Alternately you may fry two batches at a time, keeping the first batch of finished soft shell crabs warm in a low [175 degree] oven on a foil lined baking sheet.)

When oil is hot but not smoking, remove a crab from the buttermilk, shake off the excess liquid, and dredge it through the flour mixture.  Place the crab gently and away from you into the hot oil.  Repeat with the remaining shellfish.  Fry these, turning once, until they are a deep golden brown and crispy on both sides.

The finished crabs are great on a plate with a pile of vinegary slaw or a cool potato salad on the side, or tucked into your favorite bread with a thick slice of tomato and buttery lettuce for a slightly decadent sandwich. Served with a mayonnaise-based sauce that has a little bit of a kick.

Soft Shell Crabs Sauce


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • lemon juice

Measure ½ cup of either homemade or best-quality prepared mayonnaise.  Cut a garlic clove in half and rub a small mixing bowl with each cut half of the clove.  Add the mayonnaise to the bowl along with 1/8 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and salt.  If using prepared mayonnaise, add a couple of teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the bowl to brighten it up a bit.  Stir well and let sit, refrigerated, for 30 minutes while the flavors blend.

Serve with soft shell crabs right out of the frying pan.

Copyright © 2008-2015 DeeDee MacDonald

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