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.

TYPESOURCECHARACTERISTICSMETHOD
Clams, ButterPuget SoundLean rubbery, sweetBake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, QuahogEast CoastLarge hard shellBake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, LittleneckEast and West CoastSmall, usually eaten on the half shellBake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, RazorWest CoastSoft shelledBake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, SoftEast and West CoastSoft shelledBake, steam, stew, sauté
ConchSouthern Florida, Gulf, CaribbeanTough…you need to beat it to tenderize itBake, braise, broil, stew
Crab, BlueAtlantic and GulfSweet, succulent meatAll
Crabs, Blue softAtlantic and GulfSweet, succulent meat, they have shed their shellsPan fried and grilled are best, sautéed, bakes
Crabs, RockAtlantic North Carolina to TexasSweet, succulent meatAll
Crabs, DungenessPacificSweet, succulent meatAll
Crabs, KingNorth Pacific AtlanticYa only eat the legs with these bad boysSteam, bake
 Lobsters Tropics, Australia, South Pacific Firm meat not as sweet as Maine Lobster Steam, boil love
Lobsters, Spiny (crayfish)Tropics, Australia, South PacificEat the tails only.All methods…Steam, grill etc. 
MusselsAtlantic, Pacific, MediterraneanSlightly tough and sweetSteam and love em
Oysters, EasterAtlanticRange from bland to salty to firm to tender, better than the pacific oysterSteam, bake, Raw
Oysters, PacificPacificRange from bland to salty to firm to tenderSteam, bake, Raw
Oysters, OlympiaPuget SoundRange from bland to salty to firm to tender
Scallops, BayEast CoastSmall and sweet meat, sweeter than Sea ScallopsAll
Scallops, SeaLarger Sweet and moist, less tender and more chewy than bay
SHRIMP Colossal, Extra Jumbo,Jumbo,Extra LargeMedium, Small, Extra SmallFresh and Salt water All over the worldSweet and lovelyAll cooking methods
SquidSalt water, moderate climate throughout the worldLight extremely firm flesh
SnailsCaliforniaDense, chewy
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