Shellfish are sweet, briny treats from the sea that are naturally low in calories. But it’s important to choose the freshest shellfish for your dish. Here are shopping and cooking tips, as well as recipe ideas for shellfish.
How to buy fresh shellfish
Shop for shellfish as you would for fish. Choose a reputable purveyor and follow your senses. Be sure fresh shellfish really smells fresh. If you are buying octopus or squid whole, the eyes should be bright, not cloudy. When buying frozen shellfish, select only tightly sealed packages with no ice crystals or any sign of refreezing. Always ask when cooked shellfish was cooked.
Make sure to buy shellfish when you can refrigerate it quickly. In warm weather, or when you may be delayed on the trip home, have the shellfish packed in ice.
How to store shellfish at home
Possibly the most perishable of all foods, any type of shellfish is highly susceptible to bacterial contamination once it dies or gets too warm. When you buy shellfish, it is imperative to keep it alive—and/or cold—until you are ready to cook and serve it, generally within a day or two of purchase. Live bivalves—such as clams, mussels, and oysters—can be kept refrigerated for four to seven days.
Freeze all cooked shellfish in airtight containers or tightly sealed heavy-duty freezer bags. Most types of frozen raw or cooked shellfish will keep for two months if the freezer is set at 0° Fahrenheit or colder. Be sure to thaw frozen shellfish in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
How to clean shellfish
6 recipe ideas for shellfish
1. Steam clams or mussels in a broth with white wine and garlic.
2. Grill oysters, cup side down for two minutes until they open. Serve with herbed butter, hot sauce, or lemon wedges.
3. Steam crab, then serve with lemon wedges or melted butter.
4. Marinate shrimp in lemon, garlic, and parsley, then grill.
5. Sauté squid in olive oil and garlic for just a minute, then add a splash of white wine and serve.
6. Make a lobster salad or crab salad with the steamed meat from these crustaceans. Serve on a bed of salad greens or on a soft bun for a sandwich.
Also see 10 Spectacular Shellfish Recipes.