Soft-Shell Crab at the Sushi Nami Royale in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Soft-Shell Crab is something I don’t encounter all that often and, if my memory doesn’t fail me, thus far it has only been in Japanese Restaurants. This is a pity, really, as I really love them, and, for any crab-lovers, the tiny, soft-shelled variety are a real treat. At the Sushi Nami Royale Restaurant in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, they went beyond the usual preparation with a lovely twist.
For the uninitiated, Soft-shell Crab, are crab that have ‘moulted’, or cast off their outer-shell in preparation for growing larger. During this period, the crabs are extremely vulnerable to predators, not the least of which are gustatory afficionados who prize these tasty little delicacies. It is possible to actually catch the crabs immediately after moulting but, usually, the shell has started to form again to some degree. It may be whisper thin, or it can be thick enough to be quite appreciable to the bite. In any event, the whole idea is that you can eat these little beauties whole, shell (such as it is) and all.
At Sushi Nami Royale, the Soft-Shell Crab you see above were of the sort whose new growth of shell had barely commenced. This was a slight disappointment to me as I really enjoy the texture when the shell has advanced to just beyond paper-thickness and is deep-fried to a lovely crunchiness. Still, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment all that much as the very thin dusting of flour made up for it quite nicely.
What really made these particular Soft-shell Crab really unique was the glaze. When I was reading the menu, my eyes caught ‘Soft-Shell’ Crab and I didn’t need to read further. Accordingly, I didn’t see, until later, that it indicated they came with ‘Plum Sauce’. Had I read that, I might not have been so enthusiastic as it would have rather struck me that adding something of that nature to such a subtly flavored delicacy would amount to ‘gilding the lily’. As it happened, though, the sauce amounted to the merest of glazes and the tangly, slightly piquant effect of the sauce complimented the sweet flesh of the crab without overwhelming it at all. I am not entirely sure that these are the best Soft-shell Crab I have ever had over the years, but they were certainly the star of my meal at Sushi Nami Royale on this occasion.