Posted by / Monday, June 24, 2013

Wok-Fried Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches

When I was little my grandparents lived in Coles Point, Virginia. I remember my grandfather made me this long pole of sorts that had two pieces of wood on the end — horizontal to the pole and about 2 feet apart with chicken wire stapled to it. I remember wading through the seaweed at low tide pushing this pole searching for soft-shell crabs to get caught on this handmade contraption. 

Crabs continue to grow new shells which makes them larger over time. The molting process (as this shedding cycle is called) is when the crab has outgrown its shell and then begins to shed his hard shell.  It's an arduous process and once shed, it leaves the crab vulnerable to predators, so it takes takes shelter. It takes 2-4 days for the new shell to completely harden. In the process of searching for soft-shells I would sometimes come across crabs that were half in the old shell half out. This is what's called a crab undressing. Just kidding — and making sure you are paying attention! This part of the process is actually called a buster and the term peeler is used for the stages leading up to a buster.

After a catch, I would run happily up the hill with a couple of soft-shells looking forward to dinner that night. I remember the crabs, still squirming, as my grandmother gently placed them lightly dusted in the cast iron pan of hot oil. Today I'm going to show you how to make my own version of a soft-shell crab sandwich.

  • Soft shell crabs that have been cleaned (mine came from Barham Seafood LLC)
  • Peanut oil
  • Flour that has been generously peppered or I use an amazing spicy dry blend like I did from Village Garden called Piquant Spice Mix
  • Store bought tartar with KimKim sauce mixed in for a little extra kick
  • An assortment of spicy micro greens (mine are sourced from Cabbage Hill Farm)

Dust you crabs in the peppered flour mix shaking off any excess. 

Gently place in a wok with hot peanut oil and begin to fry. Cooking 3-4 minutes per side in very hot oil should suffice.

Mix your KimKim sauce in with your tartar to your preferred spice level — I always like a little more of a kick. Then slather this flavorful goodness generously on one (or two) sides of your sandwich bread:

Top with crab and micro greens for an amazing lunch!

That's how we do it here in the E.A.T. kitchen — do you have a favorite way to prepare soft-shell crabs or have a favorite summertime food that just seems to take you straight back to childhood?

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  1. Oh yum. Looks so beautiful. Blue crabs are my favorite. I didn't care for the soft shells until I got older. Love them with a delicate lemon butter sauce.

  2. If I only knew how to get some of these delicious creatures around here - I guess I better save up for some US bound airfare....

    1. If you make it over and through Virginia and they are in season I will make them for you!

  3. Great read Tim, glad you are eating well and thanks for enjoying our piquant spice mix----we're gonna have to try the crab!

    1. Thanks David for making such a great product!

  4. never had soft shell crabs until recently; remember people eating sea urchins, bright yellow things at the beach.


"Some people eat to live; I live to eat." -Tim Vidra

An avid home cook, I believe in using simple ingredients, local when possible and am inspired by the principles of supporting a sustainable food system. I’ve cultivated this blog as a way to share my passion for the preparation and enjoyment of food in a way that everyone from beginners to long time foodies can get involved in.



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