Soft Shell Crabs are In Season!

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Last night at Cafe Barcel in Nyack, I had a terrific soft shell with a macademia slaw. Tender but crunchy nuts mixed in with citrus and cabbage and a sinful brown butter sauce — with one sweet and beautiful crab on top:

So great. If the restaurant were open tonight, I might go back and have another one. I guess I’ll have to wait til Wednesday….

But I also had a great soft shell at Red Hat on the River in Irvington a week or so ago. It was tempura-fried atop a salad of white bean and chorizo with baby arugula folded in, and a lemon herb vinaigrette drizzled around the plate. (It sounded so good that even though I was only planning on staying for one drink with my friends, I caved in and ordered it! It was well worth it.)

And on its Facebook page, Hudson House of Nyack posted this funny video of chef Christopher Dunn plating a soft shell crab dish in the kitchen:

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I love what this means for seasonal menus. I mean, think of the possibilities: asparagus, morels, strawberries — can tomatoes be far behind?!

So where else have you seen soft shells?

One year ago: Eating Family Style at Spadaro.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

10 Comments

  1. One of my favorite seasonal dishes! We enjoyed Soft Shell Crabs at two favorite spots recently: at La Piccola Casa in Mamaroneck they were plump and delicious, and the fried version at La Fontanella in Pelham last week were terrific too.

  2. Last night my boyfriend and I looked at the specials on the chalkboard at Cafe Barcel. “Honey,” I said, “I am definitely getting the soft shell crab.” A minute later the waiter drew a chalk line right through the dish. Someone had ordered the last one! I slowly turned and looked through the restaurant and sure enough, there was Liz sitting at the bar. I just knew she had my crab! 🙂

    So glad you enjoyed it, Liz. Thanks for posting the pic. I will definitely be back there to try it myself. And the she-crab soup and shrimp a la plancha I did have were a very nice consolation prize indeed.

  3. Tina, That’s so funny! I have to tell you, though, that mine the second-to-last crab! A couple came in after my husband and me — and we noticed because they ordered exactly the same as we did: 1 order of crab and 1 order of chicken with preserved lemon! As soon as they placed their order, the waiter crossed off the special!

    Next time, say hi!

  4. An add to this post, too: I just noticed in my newsletter from Crabtree’s Kittle House that chef Brad McDonald is serving soft shells crisped with Green Garlic Puree, Fresh Herb Salad and Smoked Pimento Foam.

    There’s that pimento, again, too!

  5. Thanks Liz, at La Piccola Casa in Mamaroneck chef/owner Walter Ricci sauteed the soft shells in a very light batter with white wine and simply placed them on a bed of spinach. Each forkfull was so juicy and plump! These were the largest I have encountered so far. La Fontanella in Pelham fried them in a pleasing herbal batter alongside a helping of broccoli rabe, our choice. Also quite satisfying…

  6. Judith Millman on

    Had delicious softshells last Sat. evening at Eastchester Fish Gourmet — they were on the appetizer menu but no problem doubling up to have as an entree. As a softshell fanatic, I’ve often thought to reserve a portion when making the dinner reservation — just to make sure they don’t sell out.

  7. On Friday night I had the soft shell special at Sidewalk Bistro in Piermont- 3 petite crunchy crabs on a lightly dressed salad of mixed greens including cukes and fennel. It was good, but boy those crabs were tiny.

    I noticed a sign outside Murasaki in Nyack advising that they have fresh soft shells. I will try to hit that next. The soft shell season is too darn short!

  8. I finally got my Cafe Barcel soft shell crab! These were great quality crabs. I had the entree size (2 very large, very fresh crabs). If you can get a little of everything in one bite- the tangy citrus slaw, a bit of the orange slice, a macadamia nut, the brown butter sauce and a piece of crispy, meaty crab- then you get the full effect of slightly tropical, very rich crab goodness.

    I had actually called ahead to make sure they had crab tonight. When we got there, it was fairly busy. I saw a lot of crab specials flying out of the kitchen. Before my server could even ask for our drink order, I blurted out “I really want the crab, don’t let them run out please!”

    I may have to go back again before the season ends.

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