Softshell crab season has returned to South Carolina. And that means you can once again chew through an entire blue crab — feet, legs, carapace and all.
For just a few weeks each spring, blue crabs in South Carolina waters shed their shells and make their way to local restaurants. (OK, it’s a little more complicated than that. I used to wonder how exactly one caught a softshell crab, given that they’re extra-shy and careful during their brief softshelled phase. Turns out crabbers just know the signs of a crab about to molt, so when they catch one of those they put it under observation until it chucks its shell. Removing the crab from the saltwater at that point will keep the shell from hardening.)
So, what’s the big deal? Why do people hyperventilate about softshells, speaking of them as though they’re the ramps of the South?
There are a lot of reasons for the hype: The strangely delightful texture of the exoskeleton (it’s not soft; more like chewy); the salty, wet burst of internal goop; the fresh, delicate crab meat; the dangly legs; the fact that they’re only available for a short time and must be served impeccably fresh. Softshells take especially well to pan-frying; their light flavors blend well with springy vegetables and salads; they go nicely with rosé. They are, in short, a perfect spring food.
In this week’s Bite of the Week, Jonathan Sharpe takes a look at Terra’s entrée version — and there are plenty of other good local options.
As of press time, Solstice Kitchen was serving softshells fried with sherry-mustard beurre blanc and deviled crab salad.
Cellar on Green has crispy fried softshells with sweet pepper-shrimp relish, City Roots butterhead lettuce, yellow grape tomatoes and green goddess dressing.
Tombo Grille has softshell crabs with Adluh grits, green tomato chow chow and red hot aioli.
Rosso Trattoria has them. Oak Table has them. So does Bourbon, which isn’t yet open (well, not really; it’s in the soft opening phase), but will be serving softshells, too, according to owner Kristian Niemi. (Bourbon holds an opening party Monday to benefit Sustainable Midlands, by the way; tickets are $65 and can be purchased at sustainablemidlands.org.)
Softshell season typically lasts just a few weeks in South Carolina. It began last week, so if you’re looking to get in on it, don’t delay.
Celebrate Turkish Culture
On Saturday, the South Carolina Dialogue Foundation hosts the Turkish Cultural Festival, which features, among other things, Turkish food (and Turkish delight, that starchy, powder-coated, often rose-flavored candy beloved by some). The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the foundation’s headquarters at 909 Shull St. in West Columbia.
Sign Us Up
The state’s food heritage is getting a bit of attention with the introduction of directional signs featuring Certified South Carolina Grown logos pointing to certain working farms around the state — including the Midlands’ own Cottle Strawberry Farm. Other signs will point the way to Firefly Distillery and Irvin House Vineyard on Wadmalaw Island, and Bee City in Cottageville, among others, The Associated Press reports. The program is a joint project of the state Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Speaking of Cottle Strawberry Farm, the 2014 public picking season is now underway; it runs through about June. Visit cottlestrawberryfarm.com for U-pick locations, hours and other information.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Brew Pub Site Available
3520 Augusta Road, West Columbia. Click for more information.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning Full & P/T avail. Must have a clean driving record, organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00/hr. Please bring a copy of your driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Please call for an interview. 803-865-1200
Free Times is looking for a highly organized, detail-oriented self-starter to assist in gathering material from advertisers, coordinating between the sales and production departments, and handling routine clerical tasks. Must be proficient on a Mac, able to conduct business via phone, email, text, Dropbox, social media platforms and face to face while under deadline in a fast-paced, sometimes distracting work environment. The position requires the ability to multitask, excellent oral and written communication skills, and solid experience in quickly learning new computer programs. This is a full time position with benefits. Send a cover letter, resume and salary expectation to email@example.com.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Wing Zone is now hiring for experienced delivery drivers, cooks & cashiers. Apply in person @ 132 Assembly St. or call 803-933-9464.
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com