Never in my life had I ever considered eating a soft-shell crab cold. But on two occasions I was served them, both times unexpectedly, and both times they were so lovely. The first time, a friend served them at a dinner party. They had been steamed and chilled, then served with a Mediterranean sauce of toasted fennel seeds, pine nuts, chopped olives, shallots, lemon and olive oil, and they were spectacular. Briny, tender and delicate, that dish was a revelation.

The second time, I ordered the soft-shell special at a Japanese restaurant, assuming they would be deep fried. What came was a fried but chilled crab, served with spears of pickled ginger shoots and baby lettuces and topped with a gingery sauce. Again, the crab was amazingly fresh tasting and so well-suited to the execution. Anyone else have a cold soft-shell crab experience?