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Soft shell crabs - who's making them?

Soft shell crabs - who's making them?
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  • Soft shell crabs - who's making them?

    Post #1 - June 18th, 2004, 4:29 pm
    Post #1 - June 18th, 2004, 4:29 pm Post #1 - June 18th, 2004, 4:29 pm
    Two weeks ago we had soft shells at Davis Street Fishmarket that were absolutely yummy -- two jumbo-size, sauteed with garlic or lemon butter, for what I recall was about $20. (They're currently serving one whale for $21) We're ready for another meal -- any suggestions for other restaurants doing a good job with soft shells this season?
    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #2 - June 18th, 2004, 5:45 pm
    Post #2 - June 18th, 2004, 5:45 pm Post #2 - June 18th, 2004, 5:45 pm
    Most soft shell purists will tell you not to eat the big ones. The smaller ones have the melt in your mouth skin that I always look for. They should taste like the sea, not like an aquarium. They also should be small, but plump, not flat and deflated.

    I recently had a lunch special at Pili Pili, cumin dusted soft shell crabs, with couscous.

    Image

    But the Soft Shell Crab Open-Face Sandwich with Pancetta Bacon, Remoulade and Caper Butter at North Pond blew it away for pure freshness and melt-in-your-mouthiness.

    I'm from New Jersey and take these things seriously. If I'm back there around the season, I drive down the shore and bring 'em back to the saute pan or grill alive.
  • Post #3 - June 19th, 2004, 6:09 am
    Post #3 - June 19th, 2004, 6:09 am Post #3 - June 19th, 2004, 6:09 am
    kiplog wrote: If I'm back there around the season, I drive down the shore and bring 'em back to the saute pan or grill alive.


    Grilling is my cooking method of choice. When you say live, do you not clean them first?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - June 19th, 2004, 8:04 am
    Post #4 - June 19th, 2004, 8:04 am Post #4 - June 19th, 2004, 8:04 am
    You do have to 'clean' them. Besides just being mean to the poor crab, there's a few parts you need to take off.

    Cleaning is very easy, although not for the squimish since it basically involves cutting the crabs face off. You also need to remove the apron from under the crab, and the gills, which are under the pointy part of the shell.

    I don't think any midwesterner needs to do this, since I've never seen live soft shell crabs out here and the places that sell them will do it for you, if it isn't done already. I get my crabs at Davis Street (they do sell retail) Burhops, or if I'm desperate, Whole Foods.

    As an aside, Once when I was in DiHo market, an Asian market on Dempster in Morton Grove, they had some very lively blue crabs (not soft shells) crawling out of their buckets and exploring the aisles. Those are the kinda crabs you want.
  • Post #5 - June 19th, 2004, 10:50 am
    Post #5 - June 19th, 2004, 10:50 am Post #5 - June 19th, 2004, 10:50 am
    kiplog wrote:You do have to 'clean' them. Besides just being mean to the poor crab, there's a few parts you need to take off.

    Cleaning is very easy, although not for the squimish since it basically involves cutting the crabs face off. You also need to remove the apron from under the crab, and the gills, which are under the pointy part of the shell.

    I don't think any midwesterner needs to do this, since I've never seen live soft shell crabs out here and the places that sell them will do it for you, if it isn't done already. I get my crabs at Davis Street (they do sell retail) Burhops, or if I'm desperate, Whole Foods.

    As an aside, Once when I was in DiHo market, an Asian market on Dempster in Morton Grove, they had some very lively blue crabs (not soft shells) crawling out of their buckets and exploring the aisles. Those are the kinda crabs you want.


    So just to make sure I am correct, you do not grill them while they are still alive, but clean them first as I do, yes?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - July 18th, 2006, 10:45 am
    Post #6 - July 18th, 2006, 10:45 am Post #6 - July 18th, 2006, 10:45 am
    Today is my friend's birthday and she wants (no, demands) soft shell crab. The obvious choices are Shaw's, Joe's and Roy's. They are good, but I'd like to take her to a place that is offering a great soft shell crab dish that's special. A place that doesn't necessarily focus on seafood alone. Anybody had great soft shell crabs lately? If so, what and where? And if I can be a bit more precise, I'd love a place that offered outdoor dining as well. Thanks.
    Cheryl
  • Post #7 - July 18th, 2006, 10:55 am
    Post #7 - July 18th, 2006, 10:55 am Post #7 - July 18th, 2006, 10:55 am
    Call BOKA and see if they have them as a special. Had 'em a few weeks ago and they were great. They have an outdoor patio as well.


    Boka
    1729 N Halsted St
    Chicago, IL 60614
    (312) 337-6070
  • Post #8 - July 18th, 2006, 11:00 am
    Post #8 - July 18th, 2006, 11:00 am Post #8 - July 18th, 2006, 11:00 am
    Unfortunately, soft shell crabs have bid a fond farewell to BOKA. Thanks for the recommendation though. I'm still looking....
  • Post #9 - July 18th, 2006, 11:16 am
    Post #9 - July 18th, 2006, 11:16 am Post #9 - July 18th, 2006, 11:16 am
    Socca, on Clark, would seem to fit your parameters. Call to see if they are still offered. I thought they did a very nice job. Sorry, I don't have the contact info.
  • Post #10 - July 18th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Post #10 - July 18th, 2006, 11:22 am Post #10 - July 18th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Don't go to Smith & Wollensky. They might have softshells on the menu, but they're tiny and overpriced.

    If you want to cook 'em up yourself, I posted a great grilled softshell recipe here. I saw softshells advertised at Dirk's yesterday for $5 A PIECE! Just paid $1.50 per in Virginia...talk about sticker shock.
  • Post #11 - July 18th, 2006, 11:55 am
    Post #11 - July 18th, 2006, 11:55 am Post #11 - July 18th, 2006, 11:55 am
    Awww...no crabs at Socca either! I make soft shells at home a couple of times each summer and usually get them fro Isaacson and Stein on Fulton in the market district. Last time, they were about $45 for a dozen primes. They were great, but no time to cook tonight. So, still looking.....
  • Post #12 - July 18th, 2006, 12:01 pm
    Post #12 - July 18th, 2006, 12:01 pm Post #12 - July 18th, 2006, 12:01 pm
    OK, this isn't exactly haute cuisine, but Dozika in Evanston has a soft shell crab stew that I thought was lovely; similar to a Thai curry, but mild and sweet.
  • Post #13 - July 18th, 2006, 12:03 pm
    Post #13 - July 18th, 2006, 12:03 pm Post #13 - July 18th, 2006, 12:03 pm
    I'll plug Vie in Western Springs. You may not want to trek all the way down there (although it's really not a terrible drive), but I think it certainly fits a lot of your criteria.

    There's a soft-shell crab appetizer on their menu on their website, but I'd call to confirm.

    pan-fried soft shell crab, spanish bread hash, parsley, lemon and chive vinaigrette $15

    http://www.vierestaurant.com

    4471 Lawn Ave
    Western Springs, IL
    (708) 246-2082

    LTH Thread
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #14 - July 18th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    Post #14 - July 18th, 2006, 12:47 pm Post #14 - July 18th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    They have them at Meiji (623 W. Randolph) - my favorite Japanese place - which has outdoor dining, too. Here's a link to a web site that has their menu, where you can see that the crabs are fried and served with a soy-lemon-butter sauce. I saw them the other day at the next table over, and they looked great.

    http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurant ... isineid=37
  • Post #15 - July 19th, 2006, 10:02 am
    Post #15 - July 19th, 2006, 10:02 am Post #15 - July 19th, 2006, 10:02 am
    Try Grecco's in Willowbrook on the Southwest Side. Also, you might try The Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island.
  • Post #16 - July 19th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Post #16 - July 19th, 2006, 10:38 am Post #16 - July 19th, 2006, 10:38 am
    What about BLue Water Grill? I've had pretty good softshells there. Though as a transplant from the DC area, I have a hard time eating crabs in Chicago....
    Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • Post #17 - July 19th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Post #17 - July 19th, 2006, 10:51 am Post #17 - July 19th, 2006, 10:51 am
    CTB,

    Where did you end up going, and how was it?
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #18 - July 19th, 2006, 7:59 pm
    Post #18 - July 19th, 2006, 7:59 pm Post #18 - July 19th, 2006, 7:59 pm
    Are soft-shells still in season?

    Renga-Tei, Japanese restaurant, in Skokie has a wonderful light batter on their plump soft-shells. They are frozen version, not fresh, but large with good tamale under the delicate crispy shells.

    3956 W. Touhy Ave.
    Lincolnwood
    847-675-5177
  • Post #19 - July 19th, 2006, 8:52 pm
    Post #19 - July 19th, 2006, 8:52 pm Post #19 - July 19th, 2006, 8:52 pm
    I had very good soft shells over a mushroom and green bean risotto at Yoshi's last week, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for soft shells. (There were 2 to an order.)

    I was in NJ earlier this week and had an amazing soft-shell sandwich at a place called Mud City just outside Long Beach Island. It might have been the largest, meatiest soft shell I've every had! Mmm...I'll be thinking about it all season.
  • Post #20 - July 19th, 2006, 9:08 pm
    Post #20 - July 19th, 2006, 9:08 pm Post #20 - July 19th, 2006, 9:08 pm
    Gourmande,

    Soft shell crab season begins when the water temperature reaches 70 degrees and ends when the water cools down below 70, typically from late May/early June to around mid September on the Chesapeake Bay, and usually much earlier down on the Gulf coast.

    :twisted:
  • Post #21 - July 20th, 2006, 10:53 am
    Post #21 - July 20th, 2006, 10:53 am Post #21 - July 20th, 2006, 10:53 am
    I noticed Glenn's on Montrose has had blue crab on their menu for a couple of days now.

    Glenn's
  • Post #22 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:32 am
    Post #22 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:32 am Post #22 - July 22nd, 2006, 8:32 am
    I had a delightful, fresh soft shell appetizer at Zia's in Edison Park last night. It was fresh and plump, breaded and fried, and served atop a mild cream sauce with capers and a mild shredded giardiniera. It was a nice preparation of a very tasty crab.

    (Still wondering where you wound up, CTB)

    Best,
    Michael

    Zia's Trattoria
    6699 N Northwest Hwy
    Chicago
    (773) 775-0808
  • Post #23 - July 30th, 2006, 10:28 pm
    Post #23 - July 30th, 2006, 10:28 pm Post #23 - July 30th, 2006, 10:28 pm
    Had an excellent soft-shell preparation last night at Tufano's/Vernon Park Tap. One great big succulent crab, gently sauteed, served over a bed of angel hair pasta with a subtle lemon/garlic/EVOO seasoning , for (I think) 9.95. My Customary Dining Companion and I shared two apps - a dandy tomato bruschetta and a tasty Caprese augmented with red onion - two pastas and an Italian beer each, and got out of there for 45 clams. Good eats and comforting surroundings on a hot night.
  • Post #24 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:34 pm
    Post #24 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:34 pm Post #24 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:34 pm
    Does anyone have any recommendations for who around town is making good soft shell crab preparations this season?

    I'm really just looking for restaurant preparations, not places to buy them raw.

    Thanks,

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #25 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:56 pm
    Post #25 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:56 pm Post #25 - May 23rd, 2009, 7:56 pm
    Sorry, I haven't had any yet this year. Last year (and in many prior years), I had the soft shell crabs at the Half Shell, and thought they were pretty darn good. Not a really special preparation, just lightly breaded and fried. Just like I used to get in North Carolina. I think they were even served in a plastic basket. I think the Half Shell still has a soft shell crab sandwich at lunchtime, which is basically a fried crab on a hamburger bun (another NC favorite). Last year, the sandwich was only about $6.

    The best Soft Shell crab preparation I had last year was a blackboard special at Spoon Thai. As I recall, it was served in a very tasty but uncharacteristically Thai cream sauce. I don't remember many of the details, except that it was delicious. I must check with them to see if they are serving it again this year.
  • Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:45 pm
    Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:45 pm Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:45 pm
    Riddlemay's recent post in the best thing you've eaten lately thread makes me wanna go to Myron & Phil's asap:

    Soft shell crabs at Myron & Phil's, about two and a half hours ago. A whole mess of crabs on a plate, each one tasting like it had absorbed a half stick of butter (as if that were a bad thing), yet with plenty of crab flavor coming through so that they weren't just butter delivery systems (as if that were a bad thing).
    Fettuccine alfredo is mac and cheese for adults.
  • Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 9:19 pm
    Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 9:19 pm Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 9:19 pm
    Never had them...love seafood but have never been able to work my mind around them. Remind me of spiders for some reason.
    "There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne."
    Bette Davis in Old Acquaintance
  • Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 5:43 am
    Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 5:43 am Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 5:43 am
    Sun Wah's are quite good and, like everything else they serve, a relative bargain. I think they use frozen crabs, though.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #29 - May 24th, 2009, 8:34 am
    Post #29 - May 24th, 2009, 8:34 am Post #29 - May 24th, 2009, 8:34 am
    Blackbird has them as an appetizer. In past years, I've super sized the app and had them as a main. I haven't tasted this preparation, but I'm willing to bet it's great. Never had a bad softshell crab at Blackbird.

    Crispy maryland soft-shell crab with fresh soybean tofu, lily bulbs and jalapeno
    Last edited by deesher on May 24th, 2009, 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #30 - May 24th, 2009, 8:40 am
    Post #30 - May 24th, 2009, 8:40 am Post #30 - May 24th, 2009, 8:40 am
    Not had them so far this year, but I usually get my annual fix at Smith & Wollensky - they do a great soft shell crab in season, nothing fancy, just beautiful fresh crab, seasoned lightly & fried in lots of butter.

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