Taste the advent of summer with some soft-shell crab!

When soft-shell crabs come in to season, you don't have to bother busting out those shell crackers. These tasty delights are available in the spring because that's when they come to coastal areas to molt their shells, leaving their meat exposed to fishermen along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast of the United States from roughly April to October every year. Unlike most crabs whose shells harden within a few hours of molting, soft-shell crabs take a few days to regenerate a hard exterior. One of the most common varieties is the Blue Shell Crab harvested in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It is best served fresh and if you're preparing these at home, you might even consider buying them live. Otherwise, look out for restaurant specials since this is a good sign that the supply is fresh.

This is a very low maintenance shellfish - all you have to do is wash the creature off before cooking it and its entire body is edible. The most popular way to prepare soft-shell crab is pan-frying. Try putting yours on a sandwich or over a salad with some fresh veggies!

To read more, try Serious Eats' guide