Video:Clean and Cook Soft Shelled Crabswith Erica Wides
Not sure what to do with soft shelled crabs when you get them in the kitchen? Learn how to clean and trip the crabs, then see how to cook them, and determine when they are done.See Transcript
Transcript:Clean and Cook Soft Shelled CrabsHi, I’m chef Erica Wides from chefsmartypants.com, here for About.com. And today I want to show you how to prepare and cook soft shell crabs.
What Are Soft Shell Crabs?If you’re not familiar with the soft shell crabs, what they are – are blue crabs that have very recently molted their shell.So, there’s a very short time period where they’ve gotten rid of their hard shell and they still have this very soft shell. You eat the whole thing, shell and all.
Cleaning Soft Shell CrabsWhen you buy soft shell crabs you need to clean them, right before you cook them. So, if you’re going to buy them and keep them in your fridge for a day you want to clean them yourself. Cause it’s really important that they actually stay alive until you’re ready to cook them.So, the first thing you need to do with a soft shell crab is cut off this front part. It’s its face.
Trim the CrabsYou take a pair of scissors and you cut right behind the eyes. Just like that. Give a little squeeze, because sometimes, there’s a little air bubble or pocket of water that comes out of there. Then, you want to lift up the shell, here, and you can see these kind of fuzzy things. These are the gills and the gills aren’t really edible. They’re a little bit tough. So the gills come out and you just pull. It’s actually really easy to do this – you just have to know what to do. So, you pull out those gills, and then, you turn it over.
And on the bottom is something called the apron, which is this, it’s part of its shell. Now, this is also interesting because you can also tell which crab is male and which crab is female. You see this, this right here – this apron. See, it looks like the Washington Monument, that’s how you know that this is a male. If this were a female crab this would like the capital building. The rotunda. These are both males. So, you just pull off that. The apron. And that comes right off, you just give a little twist and pull. Okay, that’s the first crab. That’s done.
Season the Soft Shelled CrabsThen, what I’m going to do is season the crab with a little salt and pepper and then I’m going to dust it in some flour. We like to cook the crabs with just a little bit of something coated on the surface, just to give them just a little bit of crunch and to give it good color. You could use corn meal, you could use flour, you could use cracker crumbs. I’m just partial to using plain old flour. So, I’m going to give this crab some seasoning. A little kosher salt and just a little bit of black pepper. And you can certainly season your flour too. You can put in some cayenne, some paprika if you want in there. And then, lay the crab in the flour. Just like that. Turn it over. Just like that. And that pat off excess flour and you don’t wan to create dough on the crab you just want a light dusting of flour like that.
Cooking Soft Shell CrabsSo, when you fry these crabs up you want to use a pan that’s pretty heavy, you don’t want anything that’s too thin or too delicate because you don’t want it to burn. I’m using a cast iron pan cause I just really like cooking in cast iron. And I’m going to add oil to the pan that has a high smoke point. I’m actually going to use grape seed oil for this. But you could use canola oil, and kind of vegetable oil for this. Peanut oil would be great. You just want to avoid things like olive oil. Because the smoke point on that is too low and you’d get a big smoky mess in your kitchen. So, I’m pouring in 2 eights of an inch maybe. About that much oil. So I’m going to let the oil get nice and hot and then I’m going to drop in my crab. Have a lid nearby. Handy. Because there’s going to be a lot of splattering that goes on here. And, if you have a splatter screen you could use that. I just like to keep a lid as sort of a protective shield and, also, have a plate with some paper towel ready for the crabs to land on when they’re done. So, I’m just gloing to give my crab another little dusting in the flour here. Make sure that he’s nice and coated. And then, we’re going to go right into the hot oil. And you want to put the shell side down first. So you want to have your heat at kind of a medium high in here. And this is why you want to have that lid handy because this guy kis spitting at me a little.
Check the CrabsNow, the way that you determine that these are done is they’re actually going to turn from blue to red. They’re just like lobsters, they turn red as they’re cooking. So, when we see red on that first side, we’re going to flip it over. Ok, this crab is ready to flip. I took a little peek underneath. And it’s red. So, I’m going to give it a little flip. You want to be really careful because it’s really splattery and flip it over. And then, same thing, have your shield to protect you. So you want to give crabs like this – these are pretty big fat ones about 3 minutes per side to get emcooked through. You can also deep fry the crabs. They’re very commonly deep fired. You can dredge em in batter and then deep fry em and those are great too.And, don’t be afraid of them, you just cut into them and dig right in. Remember, you can eat the entire crab.
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