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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Soft Shell Crabs from Mitchum Creek

I always loved going to Uncle Perry's in the summertime. He lived in Topping, Virginia on Mitchum Creek. We would get up early in the morning, pack a lunch, and go fishing. I loved fishing with Uncle Perry. (Helping gather bait... watching the crabs in the bucket blowing bubbles... watching Daddy on the front of the boat trying to scoop up the peelers on top of the water with the dip net... watching Uncle Perry cut up bait... Mama getting so tired from catching fish, but she wouldn’t quit. She’d just hook them then call Daddy to reel them in...) When we got in we would clean the fish and then get cleaned up ourselves. Usually, we kids could get in a good scavenger hunt before supper. Going through the crab boxes... pulling Periwinkles off the weeds by the water... playing on Uncle Perry’s boat... watching the hummingbirds from the porch... Grandmama having to walk so slow with the feeder because the hummingbirds would come to feed as soon as she opened the front door... Later that night we all came out on the porch to eat supper. In the usual family tradition, there was always mounds of food. Grandmama’s fried oyster fritters, fresh fried fish, fried chicken, Aunt Vashti’s pan fried squash, plates of tomatoes and cucumbers, biscuits and much, much more. And, of course, if Daddy had gotten a couple of peelers, we had soft shell crabs too! Uncle Perry was sitting at the head of the table, to my left. As usual we all over-ate. We sat for a rather long time talking about the day and the ones that got away. I noticed Uncle Perry push back his chair to stand. He leaned forward several times pushing his hands against the seat of the chair. But, he did not stand. After a moment, he smiled and looked over at me. He leaned over to me and said, “It’s awfully embarrassing after eating that much, trying and trying to get up, and you can't. And then you find out that your thumb’s in your hip pocket!”

Soft Shell Crabs

4 soft-shell crabs
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups oil for frying, or as needed


If you buy the crabs frozen or pre-packaged, they will be cleaned. But if you get them fresh you may have to clean them.
To clean each crab: Lift one pointed side of top shell and remove the gills by pulling them out. Put top shell back down and repeat on other side. On the bottom side remove tail flap by twisting and pulling off. Using a pair of scissors, remove the face by cutting behind the eyes. Rinse the crabs thoroughly with cold water. Dry on paper towels.

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees. In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg and milk using a fork. In a separate bowl, stir salt and pepper into the flour. Lightly salt the crab, then dip in the flour, dip in the egg, then in the flour again. Carefully place crabs into the deep-fryer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Carefully turn over, and cook until golden on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve as soon as they are cool enough to eat. You can eat the whole crab.


  1. Lynn, this really takes me back! I'm drooling all over myself! Actually the kind of meal you describe takes me back to Oklahoma when my grandparents had a place on Grand Lake. No crabbing there, but tons of fish! And my Grandmother Dolly had a fantastic vegetable garden. Mercy, mercy, mercy... As for the oysters and crabs, we spent some time in Colonial Beach VA, which is right at the mouth of the Potomac..... little oysters fresh out of the water, the sweetest I've ever had! I never did cook any crab in those days, but I sure did eat a lot!

  2. I love this post and the recipe! Such wonderful memories. <3 Thank you so much for sharing on Thursday's Treasures Sweet Friend! <3 and hugs Sugah!

    1. Thanks for including me in the celebration! I love sharing memories whenever I can. This is one of the stories in my short stories collection book "Crazy People" :-)