Savor Soft-Shell Season

Summer is short, so get them while they last.

The beautiful swimmers are ready to molt. And now’s the time to scoop up these prized, seasonal crustaceans. The delectable blue crab goes through various stages in its life, and during the warmer months, it sheds its shell as it continues to grow. We get the most local crabs we can, says George Esterling III, one of the sons at George & Sons’ Seafood Market in Hockessin. He expects to be filling his cold case with jumbos and whales, the largest soft shells, as soon as they’re available. No time to cook your own? Let someone else do the work. At The House of William and Merry in Hockessin, chef Bill Hoffman will be serving soft shells in all their glory. Last year, he pan-fried the crabs and served them with arugula, aged Parmesan, fingerling potato crisps, house-made pancetta and backyard heirloom tomato vinaigrette. At Woody’s Dewey Beach Bar & Grill, you’re likely to find soft shells on weekends in season. Owner Jimmy O’Conor says a favorite preparation involves lightly flouring the crab and pan-frying it until “a golden crisp.” It’s served on white bread with a red-pepper aïoli, a lemon wedge and the restaurant’s house-made Old Bay chips. The accompaniments get creative at Harry’s Savoy Grill in North Wilmington. A fried or sautéed soft shell is dressed up with a Gala apple, pomegranate seed and frisée salad, and avocado lime-chile crème. Soft shells are here till fall. Catch ’em while you can.

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