Aquaculture for all

Soft-shell crabs break the mold

US - Soft-shell crabs are back and better than ever.

“When the soft-shell crabs are in season, you know it’s time to relish the coming of summer,” said Noreen Eberly, director of seafood marketing and aquaculture development at the Maryland Department of Agriculture. “They are a delicacy, and they are wonderful.”

Unfortunately, the signature Maryland dish is only available for a short period of time. Depending on water temperature, the shedding cycle of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab runs anywhere from late May to September. During that time, the crab increases in size and sheds its hard outer shell, and for only a few hours, its soft shell is exposed and completely edible.

“A lot of the fishermen who are doing the catching will be up 24 hours a day in order to watch the crabs,” Eberly said. “They have to be fished up within a few hours.”

Tom Popp, a joint venture partner with the Bonefish Grill in Owings Mills, said soft-shell crabs are very popular. “They are very much in demand, probably because they are not readily available year-round. We sauté them and serve them with a lemon caper herb sauce. It’s a great item for Bonefish to carry.”

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