Whether you’re whipping up a beer battered soft-shell sandwich or serving Venetian style moeche, there are so many reasons to love soft-shell green crab. 

This summer, Chatham fisherman Jamie Bassett and organizations such as Manomet and New Hampshire Sea Grant worked to produce soft-shell green crabs locally, getting chefs across the East Coast excited about the local ingredient.  One reason chefs love cooking with soft-shells is that they require minimal preparation in comparison to their hard-shell counterparts. The soft-shell means the green crab can be eaten whole or trimmed like a soft-shell blue crab (which we’ll go through in this tutorial). 

However, a few days after molting the soft-shell begins to turn hard. To prevent this from happening, some processors and fishermen freeze their soft-shells as soon as they molt (also common for soft-shell blue crabs). In this tutorial, we’ll go through how to freeze, thaw, and trim a soft-shell green crab. To note, this tutorial is designed for home chefs using a standard freezer and refrigerator. 

INGREDIENTS & MATERIALS

  • Frozen Soft-Shell Green Crab (if using live crabs, skip thawing instructions). 

  • Sharp Scissors 

  • Paper Towel

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse and clean the crabs well. 

  2. If you’re freezing the crab at home and prefer a trimmed crab, follow the trimming instructions below. If trimming the crab, we recommend doing this prior to freezing since a thawed crab may be slightly more delicate. 

  3. Pat the crabs dry and individually wrap them in plastic wrap or pack them in vacuum sealed bags (preferred).

  4. Use the crabs within three months of freezing, following the thawing instructions below. 

THAWING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove frozen green crabs from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours until thawed. We recommend keeping the crabs in their original package until thawed since the legs are prone to breaking when frozen. 

  2. Rinse the thawed frozen crabs well and then dry with paper towel. 

TRIMMING INSTRUCTIONS

To note, this step is optional. Some chefs prefer cooking with the entire green crab, which is common in Venice. 

  1. With a pair of sharp scissors, trim off face to remove the eyestalks and mouthparts. 

  2. Flip the crab over and remove the apron (or sex plate in video). 

  3. Lift one end of the crab’s carapace (top portion of the shell) to reveal the gills. Trim off the gills and repeat on the other side of the crab. 

  4. Rinse the trimmed crabs well, pat dry, and start cooking! Be sure to check out our recipe page for other soft-shell dishes. 

This video demonstrates trimming thawed soft-shell green crabs and was taken at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster in Brooklyn as part of Green Crab Week:


Soft-shell green crabs were donated by fishermen Jamie Bassett and Paolo Tagliapietra. Visit Greenpoint Fish and Lobster to purchase local NY green crabs.