Soft shell crab – with Marsala, raisins and almonds

Crabs shed off their shells periodically and while their new shell is soft you eat them, shell and all.  It is the sort of “restaurant meal” that is easy to make at home.  Our favorite version is finished off with raisins, slivered almonds, and Marsala wine.  Rather sweet, but the flavors marry well with the crab.  Restaurants usually offer an appetizer version and a main course version, and, of course, that can be done at home, serving one small crab as an appetizer and reserving the large soft shell crabs for a main course offering.  Soft shell crabs come in several sizes.

The crabs need to be cleaned (click here for an article about cleaning soft shell crabs) which involves removing the mouth and eyes of the crab with kitchen shears and also the gills on each side of the crab and the flap.  The “mustard” or “butter” of the crab is usually left in when fish markets clean the crab, but I always remove that also as we don’t like the texture or the flavor and then I wash the crab in running water to flush all the offending mustard/butter out and pat it dry with paper towels.


  1. 2 large soft shell crabs or 4 small ones
  2. flour for dusting
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon butter
  5. 1/4 cup raisins
  6. 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  7. 1/2 cup dry Marsala


After  cleaning the crab and drying it with paper towels, dust with generously with flour.soft shell crab_00

Add the oil and butter to a heavy skillet and melt over medium high heat.  Swirl around to mix.

soft shell crab_01

When the butter/olive oil mixture is fragrant, add the crabs, shell side down.

soft shell crab_02

Cook for 3-4 minutes and turn over.  Add the raisins and slivered almonds.

soft shell crab_04

Cook for 3-4 minutes on that side.

Deglace the pan with the Marsala, swishing the pan around.  The flour dusting on the crabs which has had time to caramelize should unite with the Marsala to make a thin sauce.  Cook down as much as you wish…(sometimes I cook all the Marsala down and sometimes I leave more of a sauce).

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