Soft Shell Crab Oreganata by Trattoria Romana in Boca Raton, Florida

Trattoria Romana’s Famous Soft Shell Crab (and a bonus rendition from La Nouvelle Maison, their sister restaurant down the street, specializing in gourmet French cuisine.

Soft-Shell Crab Oreganata (Trattoria Romana) Photo by Fred Bollaci.

I have made many a last-minute change to dinner plans whenever I’m driving down East Palmetto Park Road in Boca and Trattoria Romana has placed their “We have Soft Shell Crabs” sign out in front of the restaurant! They are THAT good, and always sell out!


  • 2 fresh whale sized soft-shell crabs
  • 2 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
  • All purpose flour for coating
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 lemon wedge (¼ wedge)
  • 1 tbsp. salted butter

To cook:

Lay out cleaned soft-shell and lightly coat both sides with flour.

In a medium-sized frying pan, heat up oil to medium to medium-high. Once oil is hot, place crab in belly side down and cook for 1 minute until golden brown. Carefully flip crab and cook for another minute. Remove cooked crab and place on a paper towel to dry.

Drain pan of oil and add the garlic to pan. Cook until lightly brown (do not burn). Add butter and once melted, place crabs in the center of pan and add white wine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

In an oven-proof pan place your cooked crabs and add 1 tbsp. of breadcrumbs on the center of each crab.

Heat oven on broil setting and place your pan on middle rack for 2 to 3 minutes until breadcrumbs are toasted.

Remove from oven and plate crabs. Carefully pour sauce from pan over each crab and garnish plate with lemon wedge.

La Nouvelle Maison‘s Soft Shell Crab

Crispy Fried Soft-Shell Crab

  • 2 whale sized soft-shell crabs (fresh)
  • Vegetable oil (enough to submerge crabs)
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Tempura Batter:

  • ½ lb. corn starch (reserve some for dusting of crabs)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 small bottle of soda water

Pickled Ginger & Chive Butter Sauce:

  • 1 quart Chablis
  • 1 diced shallot
  • ½ sliced lime
  • 2 white peppercorns
  • ½ bunch cilantro stems
  • 1 lb. very cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons pickled ginger

How to clean fresh soft-shell crab:

First, gently lift the top shell at the left outer edge, just enough to reach in a finger and thumb and remove the fibrous gills. Repeat on the other side.

Flip the crab over and remove the central apron at its end. Just grab and tug it down, then cut off and remove. (A wide apron means it is a female, narrow means male.)

Finally, with a pair of sharp scissors, snip off the mouth and eyes in one cut.

Your crab is cleaned.

You can also have your local seafood market prepare the crab for you.

Make Simple Tempura Batter:

Place 1/2 lb. of corn starch in a bowl. (Reserve enough corn starch on the side for dusting the crabs)

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl,: ½ lb. corn starch, 1 pinch cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped), 1 pinch sea salt, 1 small bottle of soda water, and stir the batter occasionally. Set aside.

Pickled Ginger & Chive Butter Sauce:

On the stove top in a small pot add 1 quart Chablis, 1 diced shallot, ½ sliced lime, 2 white peppercorns, ½ bunch cilantro stems. Reduce by 3/4.

On a low heat slowly whisk in 1 lb. of very cold butter (diced) into your white wine reduction to achieve your butter sauce. Strain and set aside. (Keep Warm)

Chop 2 tablespoons pickled ginger and add to your butter sauce.


Dust the cleaned crab in corn starch and add to the tempura batter. Gently and carefully add to fryer at 350F (or frying pan) for 2 mins per side. Take out when crispy, strain, place on paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place crispy crabs on center of your plate and add a spoonful of pickled ginger butter sauce.

Optional garnish:

Baby cilantro/flowers and shaved red radish and lemon oil.

You can also add blanched vegetables served underneath crispy crabs.

About Fred Bollaci

I'm CEO and President of Fred Bollaci Enterprises. I lost more than 100 pounds while living "La Dolce Vita" and I'm now known as "The Healthy Gourmet." Sample the good life with me through fitness, fine food, and good wine. Meet chefs who cater to a healthy gourmet lifestyle through my Golden Palate blog.
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