Each spring, blue crabs along the East Coast shed their hard outer shells, becoming what chefs and watermen call "softies," or soft-shell crabs. At your seafood store, look for "primes," crabs that are three to four inches from front to back. Make sure each one is alive and that it feels heavy for its size, which means it's fresh enough to have retained its water. Chef Pino Maffeo of Boston's Restaurant L recommends dipping the crabs in buttermilk, dredging in flour and frying in a generous amount of canola oil for around two minutes per side. Serve with avocado puree. For the full recipe, go to and click on Restaurant L.

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