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Recipe from: The Crab Cookbook by Whitey Schmidt
Soft shell crabs are an east coast tradition. The crab in its soft stage is not harvested out west. The soft crab industry began during the 1870's in Crisfield, Maryland and today, the soft shell crab represents a major Chesapeake Bay commercial effort.
In order for a blue crab to increase in size, the crab must first molt or shed its hard shell. Under the hard shell is a new, soft shell. If left in the water, its shell will begin to harden in about two hours. Soft shell crabs are available from late spring to early fall with May through August the most productive months.
As the availability of crabs increases during the summer, prices will drop. You may wish to purchase a quantity of them when the price is low and keep them for future use. They should be cleaned and individually wrapped before storing them in the freezer. This can be easily accomplished by wrapping the cleaned crab with its legs folded under its body. Some methods for preparing soft shells are baked, sauteed, deep fat fried or pan fried. Other ways of cooking will give equally tasty results. Soft shell crab sandwiches are one of life's greatest pleasures. Soft crabs are sold live, fresh dressed or frozen.
4 soft shell crabs, preferably of prime size, 4 ½ to 5 inches
½ cup pancake mix
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Dredge each crab thoroughly in the pancake mix. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet until a droplet of water spatters upon contact with the hot oil. Place each crab in the skillet. Cover and fry on both sides until golden. Serve hot.