How to Choose, Prep, and Cook Shellfish

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Did your grandmother ever tell you not to eat shellfish in the months that don't contain a letter "R"? Once upon a time, dear grandma would have been right, but that old wives' tale is no more.

The months that don't contain the letter "R" just so happen to be the hot summer months--May through August. Before the days of refrigeration, reports of illness due to bad shellfish were high, but now you can eat shrimp, mussels, scallops, and clams year-round.
That doesn't mean that you don't need to worry about shellfish going bad after you bring it home.  How do you know if your shellfish has spoiled? The nose knows.  If you smell ammonia or iodine, make chicken instead!
Aside from the occasional shrimp dish, most people steer clear or cooking shellfish at home, but it's easy and delicious. Learn how to choose, store, prep and cook your favorite shellfish.  
  Is it fresh? How do I store it? How do I clean & prep it? How do I cook it?
Crab Whole crabs: Buy live or buy frozen.
Legs: Buy frozen or freeze until ready to cook.
Whole: Pack live crabs in seaweed and stored in the the fridge.
Legs: Keep frozen until ready to cook.
Rinse live crabs with cold running water.
Thaw in the fridge, then squeeze out excess moisture.  Reserve the liquid to use in fish soups.
Simmer whole crabs for 10-15 minutes.  Immediately stop cooking by immersing in basin filled with ice water.
Simmer frozen crabs according to package directions.
Our favorite crab recipes
Mussels Can be purchased alive in shell or shucked and packed in brine.  Look for tightly closed or slightly open shells.  If shell is slightly open make sure it closes when touched. Keep in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Scrub under running cold water to remove any sand.  Scrape with a dull knife any barnacles on the surface.  Remove the beard, the fibrous appendage from seam of shell with a small knife. Steam until shells open, about 5 minutes.  Discard any mussels that don't open.
Great and easy mussels recipes
Shrimp If purchasing fresh or thawed, shrimp should have a fresh or sweet smell.  Do not use if the shrimp smells of ammonia or iodine.  If buying frozen, make sure the shrimp is frozen solid--not partially thawed. Store fresh shrimp on ice. If they're pre-shelled, wrap in plastic then on ice. Rinse shrimp under running cold water to thaw.  Remove vein: Make a shallow cut down the backside of the shrimp and pull out the intestinal vein. Cook only until opaque and the tail curls in.
Simmer: 10-12 minutes.
Sauté: 5-6 minutes
Broil or grill: 2-3 minutes per side
Super simple shrimp recipes
Scallops Most often sold shucked.  If purchased in shell, remove the scallop with the orange coral.  Scallops should have a sweet, clean smell and white or off white in color.  If they are brown, discard.  Wrap in an airtight container in the coldest part of the fridge. Remove the tendon from the side of scallop--you can pull it off with your fingers. Sauté or grill/broil each side until slightly browned.
Poach: 5 minutes in 180 degree water or fish stock for 5 minutes.
Some new scallops recipes
What is your favorite way to eat shellfish?
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