2nd annual Outer Banks Soft-Shell Week kicks off today! – OBX Today

2nd annual Outer Banks Soft-Shell Week kicks off today! - OBX Today

The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau is proud to present Outer Banks Soft-Shell Week beginning the Monday after Mother’s Day, May 13-18.

Now in its second year, this new festive foodie celebration spotlights the spring fever surrounding the harvest of blue crabs in their softened state post-molt, which makes them super succulent and a completely different eating experience for seafood fans.

“Soft-Shell Week may be new to our visitors but the craze surrounding the limited availability of this indigenous Outer Banks delicacy goes back as far as anyone cares to remember,” explains Executive Director Lee Nettles. “If there was a mascot dish for the OBX, a soft-shell or peeler crab as they’re often called would be one of them.”

This year, thirty restaurants have joined together to offer an array of different recipes and cooking styles at accessible prices to make it easy for locals and guests to get a taste. Last year, Basnight’s Lone Cedar won the People’s Choice Award for best tasting crabs. Who will be crowned in 2024? For a full list of participating restaurants, go to SoftShellWeek.com.

Outer Banks Soft-Shell Week shines a light on our local blue crabs that come out of the Pamlico, Roanoke, Croatan and Albemarle Sounds thanks to the hard work of watermen families, purchased at seafood markets and prepared by local chefs. “We came up with this idea last spring to showcase what makes the Outer Banks food scene so special and the local resident and visitor participation has been a runaway success.” says Mark Ballog, Member of the Dare County Tourism Board and Restaurateur of the participating Lucky 12 Tavern. “I think the very limited window in which the freshly molted blue crabs are available really feeds the craze.”

Most of the year, the ubiquitous hard shell blue crabs are more suited for steaming or cooking crab cakes but a couple times per year they naturally have to shed their shells by molting, often doubling in size during the process. The two big seasons for this are associated with the full moons in late spring and again in late summer or early fall.

While common blue crabs are available most of the year at local restaurants or for purchase at seafood markets, soft-shell versions are only around for a few weeks each molt and are available in limited supply at those same locations.

To learn all about Outer Banks Soft-Shell Week and plan your peeler-eating itinerary, go to OuterBanks.org.