Sautéed Soft-Shell Crabs With Lemon-Butter Pan Sauce Recipe
From May through September, blue crabs shed their hard shells as part of their growing process. When caught before the new shell hardens, they’re the delicacy known as soft-shell crabs. There’s very little of a soft-shell crab that you can’t eat, though there area few bits that should go before you fry them up (consult our guide to cleaning soft-shell crabs for more on that, or ask your fishmonger to do it for you).
While there are many ways to prepare soft-shells (battered and fried are pretty killer), at home I prefer to quickly sauté them in butter after lightly dredging them. The faster I can get a fresh soft-shell onto my plate, the better. I’ve tested cornstarch and flour dredging, and both have their advantages. Cornstarch makes a light and crispy coating, but I opted for flour in this recipe since it gives the crabs a crunchier exterior and a more robust flavor that pairs really well with the browned butter in the pan sauce that goes on top.
As for that pan sauce, it’s just browned butter, some frizzled capers, lemon juice, and parsley—a perfect topper to plump, juicy, and briny soft-shell crabs. For students of French cuisine, this sauce is more or less a grenobloise (which is itself meunière sauce with the addition of capers). Those French names may sound fancy, but the sauce is dead simple to make.