It's late spring, and that means the freshest of the season's softshell crabs are hitting menus across town. These delicious creatures are best when immersed in piping hot oil, and are especially good when paired with fresh produce like grilled corn, asparagus and more. Here's a handy list of 12 softshell crab dishes to try right now, available most nights, pending availability. It's best to call restaurants ahead of time to ensure they're on the menu for that evening.Read More
12 Great Softshell Crab Dishes to Try Right Now
1. The Hart + The Hunter
This Low Country restaurant in the heart of Melrose does a terrific deep-fried softshell crab with a base of rich jalapeno creamed corn, cilantro leaves, and ramps.
Chef Andrea Cavaliere gives an Italian twist to the seasonal soft shell crabs available this time of year, with a crab fritto on a steamed brioche bun with roasted peppers and saffron aioli, available as a menu special.
Chef Miles Thompson's delicate, seafood-centric menu wouldn't be complete without a seasonal softshell crab dish, available on certain nights (call ahead to ensure it's on the menu). Thompson fries the crab tempura-style, then serves it beautifully with a miso remoulade, nectarines, and lovage.
4. Father's Office
One of the best examples of this dish in the city, it makes a perennial appearance on the menu in late spring/early summer. Chef Sang Yoon dips the crab in beer batter and fries it until golden brown and crunchy. It's then sided with a lemon buttermilk sauce, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, sugar snap peas, and wax beans.
5. The Hungry Cat
This tempura-fried soft shell crab comes with smoked tasso (Southern smoked spicy pork), corn succotash, cherry tomatoes, braised chard, and a spicy pickle slaw for a tangy-crunchy counterpoint. It's a great sea-side dish during this time of year.
6. The Water Grill
This Downtown seafood restaurant does a jumbo Maryland soft shell crab that's sauteed with brown butter and served with a homemade coleslaw for $34. There's also a a soft shell crab add-on to the fritto misto appetizer.
Like Chef Sang Yoon's version at Father's Office, this one is beer-battered and fried, but then gets served with a sweet corn coconut puree and a salad of pickled shishito pepper, corn, and Thai basil for a pan-Asian flair to the seasonal dish.
8. Chaya Venice
The kari kari softshell at this elegant Venice mainstay comes with a Thai coconut chili sauce, yukon gold potato puree, and fried onions. A beautiful presentation and something easily shared among the table.
9. Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
At Wolfgang Puck's Bel-Air restaurant, Maryland softshell crab gets a quick, crispy fry with Mediterranean and Indian flavors before getting fava beans and eggplant as accoutrement.
10. Napa Valley Grille
This Maryland soft shell crab made by chef Taylor Boudreaux is served with heirloom tomatoes, oregano, Spanish olives, sherry vinegar, and housemade remoulade at rustic Westwood restaurant.
This high-end steakhouse in Beverly Hills doesn't just do great beef. The Chesapeake Bay soft shell crab gets a tempura fry, then gets a base of harissa aioli, and then sides of peperonata and lemon chutney.
12. Cooks County
This hyper-seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant by chefs Daniel Mattern and Roxanna Jullapat put forth a different menu nightly, which means a semi-regular appearance of soft shell crab depending on what's available for the day. During lunch it's grilled and stuffed into a sandwich with green goddess dressin, bacon and avocado. At dinner it's pan-fried and served with Armenian cucumber, cherry tomatoes and a ginger vinaigrette. It's best to call ahead to see if it'll be on the menu that day for lunch or dinner.