Have you ever wanted to prepare Soft Shell Crabs to eat? Well here is a step by step tutorial on How to Clean Soft Shell Crabs.
It’s relatively easy to clean a soft shell crab. But, I will be honest with you my husband cleans ours. I only cook the crabs. If you’re not up to the task of cleaning your soft shell crabs, I suggest finding someone that will clean them for you.
Cleaning Soft Shell Crabs
First of all, fresh soft shell crabs are the best. If you can only find frozen soft shell crabs make sure to smell them. If the crabs smell bad, don’t buy them. Additionally, Soft Shell Crabs or Louisiana Soft Shell Blue Crabs can be found frozen in most Seafood Markets year round.
Second, when preparing live soft shell crabs place them in the freezer until they become dormant. We find this is the most humane way of cleaning the crabs.
Remove the Apron
Remove the apron by turning the crab upside down. See photo above. The flap also known as the apron can be removed by snipping it off with kitchen shears or pulling it off the body of the crab with your fingers. The above photo shows a female crab. The female’s crab apron is shaped more like a bell. And, the male’s is thin and shaped like a “T.”
Remove the Mouth and Eyes
Next remove the eyes and mouth from the soft shell crab. We only snip off the mouth and eyes. I have seen other tutorials showing the face being removed from the crab, we don’t.
Remove the Gills
Last, turn the soft shell crab with the shell facing upwards. Remove the gills from the soft shell crab also known as the lungs. To remove the gills you’ll need to gently pick up the corners of the soft shell crab. See above photo.
The soft shell crab gills are a light beige color. You don’t want to eat these.
Remove the gills from the soft shell crab by using kitchen shears like these. Make sure to snip the gills off by the base. You could also use your fingers to pull the gills off. We find using the kitchen scissors to be an easier method.
Storing the Soft Shell Crabs
Make sure to rinse the crabs before cooking or storing them. You can store the soft shell crabs in the freezer by using a FoodSaver. If you use vacuum sealer system (FoodSaver) the crabs will keep up to one year. Also, you can place the crabs in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days only by wrapping them in saran wrap.
Soft Shell Crabs are delicious either fried, grilled, roasted, baked and used in a stir-fry or eaten on a soft shell crab sandwich. I prefer my Soft Shell Crabs deep fried on a Po’Boy or used in a recipe like my Fried Soft Shell Crab and Crawfish Sauce recipe.