What are Soft Shell Crabs?

What are Soft Shell Crabs?

It’s the best time of year for Soft Shell Crabs.  Blue Crabs off the North Carolina coast are in a shedding period.  Delicious Crabs are molting out of their old, hard shell and in a stage before their new shell has hardened.  While they’re in this stage, they are one of the tastiest treats the east coast offers. If you’ve had the pleasure of eating one, you know that they hold all the flavor of your everyday crab without any of the hassle of prying meat from its sharp, thick shell — basically, it’s seafood in its most perfect state.

Soft-shell crabs are not a separate species of crab. They’re regular crabs — in the U.S. they’re most typically blue crabs — that have gotten too big for their shells. In order to keep on growing, they shed their shell and make new, bigger ones. In other words, they molt, and it is this molting process that makes soft-shell crabs such a treat.   While they’re in this stage, they are one of the tastiest treats the east coast offers.  Our suppliers are catching Crabs and closely monitoring them so they’re shipped at the exact ideal point of their shedding.  The softies Cooper’s is bringing in are at their peak quality for dining.  They have the perfect balance of a delicate, melt in your mouth texture yet firm enough to be in top shape come your busiest hours.

In order to shed its shell, the crab forms an inner soft shell underneath, swells its body with water to break its current shell, slowly crawls out — this can take 10 minutes alone — and then begins the process of forming a new shell. It takes a couple of days for a new shell to fully harden. That’s when we want to catch them.

The molting process looks a little like this.

You can watch the whole 8-minute video below

Soft-shell crabs are best eaten golden and crisp or sauteed. If you try to boil them as you would a normal crab, they would just fall apart. It’s a good idea to get your fill when you can because although the season is plentiful, it’s also short.

We are serving them up now as a

  • Appetizer : Single, sautéed or tempura battered and fried.   14.95
  • Sandwich : Tempura battered and golden fried served with with French fries and slaw.  14.95
  • Entree : Twin crabs served tempura battered and fried with potato and vegetable,
    or sautéed over rice with scampi sauce and served with a house salad 25.99