Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Soft-Shell Crabs at Napoli 2

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

The "Peelers" at Napoli 2 - DEBORAH HYLAND
  • Deborah Hyland
  • The "Peelers" at Napoli 2

Traditionally, soft-shell crab season begins on the first full moon in May, when blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay molt, leaving them with paper-thin shells. Theoretically, soft-shells are available until September, but good luck finding them in St. Louis after late June.

The rest of the year, a blue crab requires boiling, a wooden crab mallet and cuticles of steel to pick out tiny bits of meat. (Gut Check shudders and refuses to contemplate so-called crab cakes, those clots of seasoned bread crumbs.) During soft-shell season, however, the crabs only need a dusting of flour and a quick pan fry. The entire crab is edible: claws, body, even the paddle-like swimming legs.

If you want to be pretentiously hip, order some "peelers," which is what they're called in Maryland and Virginia. Your waiter or waitress will have no idea what you're talking about though. Instead, just be grateful you can eat them at all. The Chesapeake Bay blue crab population struggled in the past decade, but the population is rebounding well.

This particular specimen currently appears on the specials menu at Napoli 2 (1054 Town and Country Crossing; 636-256-9998). The appetizer size contains one soft-shell with a light mustard sauce on a bed of spinach, but the kitchen happily prepared an entrée-sized serving.

If you've spotted soft-shells at any local restaurants, please let us know in the comments. Gut Check prefers that they not be too tarted up, but does humbly suggest that they make a particularly lovely base for eggs benedict.

Tags: ,

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation