The first time you’re served soft-shell crab, you might be alarmed when you see it sitting, claws, legs, and all, tucked inside a po’ boy roll or presented on your plate with nary a crab cracker in sight. But there’s no need to fear, because as their name indicates, these li’l guys don’t have the tooth-breaking hard exterior you have to deal with in the crustacean recipes you’re used to eating. They’re a delicacy served only in the summer, when crabs go through molting season — these are caught just after they shed, and before a new shell starts to grow. Celebrate their sweet, succulent flavor and ease of eating at your next summer party; it’s hard to beat light seafood dinners on hot nights. These 15 recipes take all the guesswork out of your soon-to-be obsession with soft-shell crabs.

1. Soft-Shell Crab Sushi Roll: Sushi rolls are usually made with soft ingredients. This creative recipe changes things up by skipping the rice and adding a tempura-battered soft-shell crab to the mix for plenty of crunch. (via Avocado Pesto)

2. Curry Crab: If you’ve only enjoyed shellfish with the classic New England combo of lemon and drawn butter, you’re missing out. Instead, stir fry your meal with a potent blend of ginger, garlic, curry powder, and Shaoxing wine before serving, so each bite is dripping with flavor. (via The Woks of Life)

3. Simple Spicy Soft-Shell Crab: A simple, cayenne-flecked flour mixture turns any food into a golden brown delight after a quick fry-up. Seasoned salt is the secret ingredient, making this dish taste more complex than it really is. (via Nutmeg Nanny)

4. Tempura Soft-Shell Crab: With each bite into the light yet crispy tempura shell, you’ll be glad you decided to try this crab recipe. Serve it with a drizzle of creamy Japanese mayo. (via The Hungry Excavator)

5. Soft-Shell Crab With White Corn Relish: Pairing fried foods with something fresh is the best way to keep them from tasting too heavy. In this case, a sweet corn relish cuts through the richness, and also brings some tartness and heat, thanks to lime juice and chilis. (via Food, Je T’aime)

6. Simple Soft-Shell Crab: Sometimes when trying a new ingredient, it’s best to keep things simple. Just sauté these crabs with some olive oil and salt, so the fresh, sweet flavor comes through. (via Umami Girl)

7. Soft-Shell Crab BLTs: Amp up the flavor of your BLT with a little help from the sea. This version of the sandwich is close to the classic, but has a rich new element that you’ll savor. (via Cheese and Chocolate)

8. Soft-Shell Crabs With Polenta Waffles: Polenta waffles, crunchy and slightly fluffy, put a savory spin on this breakfast favorite. Swap out fried chicken for soft-shell crab and you’ve got a meal to please a crowd (if you can bring yourself to share). (via Wild Greens and Sardines)

9. Curry Soft-Shell Crab in a Bread Bowl: Is there anything that isn’t better when served in a bread bowl? That’s obviously a hypothetical question, because the answer is no, especially when the dish in question is a saucy crab curry. (via Estalystic)

10. Vietnamese Soft-Shell Crab: You’ll be hard pressed to stop after just one helping of this dinner. Each crispy bite of this dish is bursting with flavor, from the turmeric and beer in the batter to the pungent nuoc cham dipping sauce (made with lime juice, fish sauce, chilis, and garlic). (via This Is How I Cook)

11. Nashville Hot Soft-Shell Crab: Nashville hot chicken is an exercise in masochism — each piece is just spicy enough that you almost can’t take it, but so delicious, you can’t stop eating it. Try swapping out the chicken for soft-shell crab, each crispy bite sandwiched by soft white bread. (via Cooking With Janica)

12. Grilled Soft-Shell Scampi: When it comes to pasta, it seems like shrimp gets all the love. Instead, toss grilled crab, which adds a smokey sweetness to the whole dish, with your noodles. (via Tide & Thyme)

13. Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich: It’s hard to go wrong with this sandwich. Crispy crab, a fluffy roll, and utter satisfaction. (via Vodka and Biscuits)

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