The later part of the summer means there are no more fresh crabs to be had. Therefore, to make you suffer, here are my two favorite recipes for crabs and crabmeat, both of which I made up accidentally.

Pan-fried Soft-shell Crabs

When we lived in North Carolina one of our great pleasures in the summer was going to Tom’s seafood shack and picking up the soft-shell crabs that he had just brought back from the east coast of the state. The first time we did this, I wasn’t really sure what to do with them. I looked in a few books and found complicated recipes involving soaking the crabs in milk and various elaborate breading schemes. After some thought, here is what I did instead, and the recipe that stands as our favorite for the crabs:

- Take 1 egg and beat it up, add tepid water to make an egg wash.

- Put some flour on a plate

- Dip each crab in the egg and then dredge it through the flour until it is well coated.

Heat up a pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add olive oil and then drop in one or two crabs depending on how many fit. Turn the heat down to medium or medium low. Cook the crabs 5-7 minutes on each side. They should get nice an solid feeling, but not dried out. You also want to tune the heat so the outside doesn’t get scorched.

Serve on salad greens with a nice dressing and some bread.

Crabby Crab Cakes

It’s hard to find good crab cakes, especially in Pittsburgh. Your average crab cake tastes more like the breading or the dressing than the crab. So when the local fish stores start to get the fresh crab meat from Maryland or Mexico, it’s time to buy a tub or two and make your own.

Here’s what you need:

- 1lb of jumbo lump crab meat. This is usually what one container holds.

- 1 or 2 eggs. If you have big eggs, use one. If you have small eggs, use two.

- 1 bunch of green onions.

- a small handful of parsley

- bread crumbs

- salt

- pepper

- cayenne pepper

Put the crab meat in a bowl. In a different bowl, beat up the eggs. Chop the green parts of the scallions and the parsley as small as you can make them. Mix the onion, parsley and egg into the crab meat. Then add the breadcrumbs and mix them in. If the mixture is still on the wet side, add some more. I like to add enough to provide a bit of crunchy crust, but not so much that the breading overwhelms the crab. Finally, throw in some salt and pepper and hot pepper to taste.

Heat up olive oil in a small frying pan. While things get hot, form the crab mixture into small patties. Drop two at a time into the pan and cook them 3-5 minutes on each side until each side is nice and brown and the cake is heated all the way through. The crab meat comes pre-cooked, so you don’t have to worry about that.

You should get about 8-10 crab cakes from this recipe. Serve the same way as you serve the soft-shells.