Soft-shell crab

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Soft-shelled blue crabs in New Orleans, Louisiana
Three soft-shell crabs ready for preparation and cooking

Soft-shell crab is a culinary term for crabs that have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft.[1] Soft-shells are removed from the water as soon as they molt to prevent any hardening of their shell.[2] This means that almost the entire animal can be eaten, rather than having to shell the animal to reach the meat.[3] The exceptions are the mouthparts, the gills and the abdomen, which, though edible when shells are very soft, are sometimes discarded ("cleaned").[4] The remaining, edible part of the crab is typically deep fried or sautéed.[3]

In the United States, the main species is the "blue crab," Callinectes sapidus, which appears in markets from April to September.[5]

In Japan, various species are used to make sushi such as maki-zushi or temaki-zushi.[3] The Japanese blue crab (Portunus trituberculatus) or the shore swimming crab (Charybdis japonica) is typically used.

In Italy, the soft-shell of the common Mediterranean crab is a delicacy typical of the Venetian lagoon (called moeca in the local idiom).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CiCi Williamson, Garry Pound & Willard Scott (2008). "Shellfish and fish". The Best of Virginia Farms Cookbook and Tour Book: Recipes, People, Places. Menasha Ridge Press. pp. 60–87. ISBN 978-0-89732-657-5. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Fred (2010). Crazy for Crab: Every Thing You Need to Know to Enjoy Fabulous Crab at Home. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-45876-388-4. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Ole G. Mouritsen (2009). "Sushi à la carte". Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body and the Soul. Springer. pp. 202–250. ISBN 978-1-4419-0617-5. 
  4. ^ Tracy Barr (2011). "Soft-shell crabs". Cast Iron Cooking For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 137–138. ISBN 9781118053188. 
  5. ^ Delilah Winder & Jennifer Lindner McGlinn (2006). "Fried soft-shell crab". Delilah's Everyday Soul: Southern Cooking with Style. Running Press. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-7624-2601-0. 
  6. ^ "Moeca (soft-shell crab)". Parco Alimentare Venezia Orientale. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.