Pre-Shift Glossary

Find a Fish:



Crab, Blue Soft Shell

Latin Name: Callinectes sapidus

Tableside Information:

Common Names: Softies

A Coastal Cuisine Favorite
Rich, Sweet, Juicy, Complex

Food Information:

THE FISHERY - The soft-shell crab trade is usually a family oriented business, with family members taking turns in shifts watching the tanks for "busters" floating to the surface, ready to be plucked from the water. "Beer" should accompany this task. The crabs usually shed at night between 11:00 pm and 4:00 am and suddenly expand in size by one third, bust open and float to the top. At this time they must be removed from the water with-in a one-hour period or they will become hard. The crabs with shells beginning to harden are called "paper-shells" or "buckrams" and have a less desirable texture when eaten whole. 

THE CRAB - Soft Shell Crab are features in Coastal Atlantic areas from Crab Shacks to Fine Dining Restaurants. The positive response from a perfectly done Softy is rewarding to the diner and Restaurant staff alike. Featuring Soft Shell Blue Crab in Northern, Western and Midwestern restaurants, display ingredient dynamics and a grasp of seasonal specialties. Talent and application can easily bring the Soft Shell Blue Crab to a delicacy level and should be prized as a feature. 
Saute, Pan Fry, Steam

Soft-Shell crabs are graded according to the width of the top shell end to end:

Whales - over 5 ½ inches (Packed 2 Dozen)
Jumbos, 5 to 5 ½ inches (Packed 3 Dozen)
Primes - 4 ½ to 5 inches (Packed 4 Dozen)
Hotels - 3 to 4 ½ inches (Packed 5 Dozen)
Peewees or Mediums - 2-3 inches (Packed 6 Dozen)

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Range & Habitat:

Eastern United States


Maryland through Florida


SFS Partnership

Harvest Method:

Hook & Line