Select & Cook Shellfish

 

What to look for…

Shellfish can be broken down into 3 basic categories:

  • Crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, lobster, crayfish)
  • Mollusks (mussels, clams, abalone, scallops, oysters)
  • Cephalops (octopus and squid)

Flavors, textures and varieties vary widely.  Shellfish do not have a long fresh shelf life so eat ‘em up fast. See the chart below for some info.

How do you know when they are cooked?

Shrimp cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and loose its flavor.  When Lobster and crabmeat turns red and opaque in center when cut.  Clams, mussels and oysters point at which their shells open – throw away any that do not open.

Type                                             Source                Characteristics            Cooking Method       

Clams, Butter Puget Sound Lean rubbery, sweet Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Quahog East Coast Large hard shell Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Littleneck East and West Coast Small, usually eaten on the half shell Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Razor West Coast Soft shelled Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Soft East and West Coast Soft shelled Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Conch Southern Florida, Gulf, Caribbean Tough…you need to beat it to tenderize it Bake, braise, broil, stew
Crab, Blue Atlantic and Gulf Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, Blue soft Atlantic and Gulf Sweet, succulent meat, they have shed their shells Pan fried and grilled are best, sautéed, bakes
Crabs, Rock Atlantic North Carolina to Texas Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, Dungeness Pacific Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, King North Pacific Atlantic Ya only eat the legs with these bad boys Steam, bake
 

Lobsters

 

Tropics, Australia, South Pacific

 

Firm meat not as sweet as Maine Lobster

 

Steam, boil love

Lobsters, Spiny (crayfish) Tropics, Australia, South Pacific Eat the tails only. All methods…Steam, grill etc.

 

Mussels Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean Slightly tough and sweet Steam and love em
Oysters, Easter Atlantic Range from bland to salty to firm to tender, better than the pacific oyster Steam, bake, Raw
Oysters, Pacific Pacific Range from bland to salty to firm to tender Steam, bake, Raw
Oysters, Olympia Puget Sound Range from bland to salty to firm to tender  
Scallops, Bay East Coast Small and sweet meat, sweeter than Sea Scallops All
Scallops, Sea   Larger Sweet and moist, less tender and more chewy than bay  

Shrimp

Colossal

Extra Jumbo

Jumbo

Extra Large

Large

Medium     Large

Small

Extra Small

Fresh and Salt water All over the world Sweet and lovely All cooking methods
Squid Salt water, moderate climate throughout the world Light extremely firm flesh  
Snails California Dense, chewy  

 

 

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