Softshell crabs are one of those culinary delights that are virtually impossible to find at any time of year except their designated season. Come late spring down the East Coast and along the Gulf of Mexico, a mass exodus of blue crabs surfaces from hibernation beneath the ocean floor. These crabs soon molt, their hard shells temporarily exchanged for a thin skin that’s fully edible, and rich in flavor.
Sweet, briny, and incredibly juicy, softshells need little assistance to showcase their unique flavor. Lightly dusted in flour, salt, and pepper, and pan-fried in lemon and butter, the crabs emerge crisp and golden-brown on the outside, with a succulent interior. Serve them on a bed of fresh summer salad, or dress them up with a sprinkle of parsley to enhance the crustaceans’ briny flavor. Battered and deep-fried, the crabs beg to be paired with a tangy cabbage slaw and thrown on a sandwich with a dollop of rémoulade.