Softshell Crab Shines On New Day Northwest

June 28, 2024

The Pacific Northwest sees its fair share of crabs. This week, they saw a seasonal treat from the East.

Kaelon Sparks, Executive Chef, Water Grill Bellevue, appeared on Seattle's NBC affiliate, KING5, to share Wild Maryland Softshell Crab from the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. During the segment, Chef K showcased our product knowledge, relationships with watermen and fishermen, and our seasonal offerings, preparing Softshell Crab on air and sharing information about Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

"When the water starts to get warm, the crabs will start to molt - moving into a larger shell and growing. The watermen (which is what the fishermen for crabs on the East Coast in Maryland are called) will watch the crabs for signs of molting and move them to a little pen for even closer monitoring before it happens. As soon as the blue crabs molt and they're soft, the watermen will pull the crabs from the water to stop a shell from hardening. They’ll then package them up for us."

Chef K also spoke about how great summertime is for seafood, with the waters providing new products with warmer weather and water.

"Summertime is a really tough time to choose one thing that's delicious and coming into season. Just this last week, we got our first batch of Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna from California. It's just a really delicious, meaty bite. We really love seeing this Bluefin on [the menu].”


Ready to explore what this summer has to offer for seafood lovers? Check out our menus where you can get Wild Maryland Softshell Crab and Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

Wild Maryland Softshell Crab at Water Grill
Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna at Water Grill

Softshell Crab Season Has Arrived!

May 8, 2024

The season's first catch of Wild Maryland Softshell Crab has arrived! They're making their West Coast debut at Water Grill.


The end of spring is a wonderful time. For starters, we get more daylight (and eventually recoup the hour of sleep lost at the start of Daylight Savings Time). That means little to Mother Nature though: the world continues to turn, and tilt on its axis, bringing warmer weather to the Northern Hemisphere. It’s here, in the Mid-Atlantic, where we begin to reap those rewards. Watermen take to their boats on the Chesapeake Bay and prepare their traps for the blue crab harvest.

As water temperatures rise, these blue crabs are harvested in anticipation of them molting and shedding their shells.

Learn more about their journey – from blue crab to softshell, and from the country’s largest estuary to one of our favorite seasonal offerings – here.


Who says Latin is dead? The language tells us a lot. Exhibit A: the scientific name for blue crab is Callinectes sapidus, meaning beautiful savory swimmer.

These crabs propel themselves through the water using their back fins, or swimmerets. You’ll find this species all along the Atlantic Coast, down through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and even to some northern parts of South America. But all roads lead to Crisfield, Maryland – the softshell crab capital of the world.

You could say this crab is the Chesapeake’s answer to the jewel of the Nile. It’s the most valuable fishery in the bay.

Photo by Maryland Fisheries Service / Jim Livingston


Blue Crabs live anywhere from three to four years and reach maturity around one year to 18 months. Growth is very dependent on temperature. Mating occurs from fall through the spring and, interestingly, females can only mate once during their life but can spawn multiple times.  

Females, especially those carrying eggs, prefer higher salinity areas and often migrate towards the mouth of the Chesapeake to spawn. Males prefer lower salinity waters and can often be found closer to river mouths and estuaries.  

Harvesting generally begins in late Spring as water temperatures warm and crabs prepare for their summer growth. This is often marked by the first full moon in May.


Softshell crabs are blue crabs. They’re harvested throughout the Chesapeake Bay by commercial crabbers when the hardshell blue crabs are deemed to be peelers, or crabs that are ready to molt.

Watermen will look for signs, such as white, pink and red colors on the shells, to tell which crabs will molt, and when. In fact, a red outline, called a “red sign”, on the swimming fin indicates that a crab will molt in less than two days.

These crabs are then transferred to shedding tanks where they are monitored until they molt. The tanks are shallow, and the water temperature is carefully regulated to emulate the crab’s natural molting habitat.

Once a crab molts, it is removed from the shedding tank as soon as possible before the shell begins to harden (which can take as little as a few hours). It’s at this moment when a blue crab becomes a softshell crab. They’re then carefully packed and arrive to us daily – directly from the Chesapeake to our restaurants.

Wild Maryland Softshell Crab at Water Grill


Iconic, sweet and earthy, softshell crab is a crunchy treat with olive-like notes imparted from the shell.

At Water Grill, our Wild Maryland Softshell Crab is prepared with a watermelon and cucumber salad and a brown butter soy ginger sauce.

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