It was time to rid my truck of the stack of sales receipts tucked under my visor. Each receipt represented a trip to Colington to buy soft shell crabs for Blue Moon. Soft shells are a delicacy that locals and some visitors have come to expect each spring. Those spidery looking plates fly out of Blue Moon beginning around Mother’s Day until the spring shed sadly comes to an end.
A tally of my receipts showed that I had bought 314 dozen crabs (that’s 3,768 crabs!) and had made 53 trips to Endurance Seafood. Endurance know crabs. Kissy, Capt and Mrs. Murray, and Lexi are an example of a well-run family business. The next time you have a soft-shell dinner, don’t take it for granted. The many steps to put that crab on your plate is long and hard. The process is very precise……….make a crab trap, not just any crab trap, but a peeler pot. Bait it, not with a chicken neck, but with a Jimmy crab. The Jimmy will attract female peeler crabs.
After the crabber has finished his line, he will bring the crabs to Endurance, where they will go into shedding tables, to finish their shed. The shedding tables are checked every 4 hours…..yes, all night, and the crab is pulled from the water as soon as the molt is complete. Pulling the crab from the water slows the formation of its new hard shell. The crabs are culled by size – hotels, primes, jumbos… and that’s when I show up.
Blue Moon then begins to work its magic – cleaning the crab, breading it, frying it, and plating it with the traditional hand-cut fries and slaw or a softie BLT. That my friends, is what the Outer Banks is all about! So, the next time you eat a soft shell, remember there was a lot of love that went into the catch, the delivery, and the prep. We will watch for a fall full moon and we may have a small shed, which will put smiles on a few more loyal crab eaters. Bon appetit!!
– Written by Blue Moon Beach Grill Co-Owner, Will Shields