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Once purchased, shellfish is highly perishable. Like finfish they must be handled carefully and refrigerated properly. Live shellfish with the exception of clams and oysters should be used immediately.
Clams and oysters, which should be refrigerated at 40 F. and packed on ice, will remain active for several days. Since most cooked shellfish lasts only two or three days it is wise to use the meat soon after cooking. Shucked clams and oysters can be stored by packing in a metal or wax container and refrigerating.
Should longer storage time be necessary, it is best to freeze fresh and live shellfish at their peak of freshness. Before freezing, oysters, clams, and scallops should be shucked, washed to remove sand, and frozen in their own liquid in a moisture-vapor- proof container, without air space. They should be used within three months. Pawl, headless shrimp in the shell maintain quality during freezing better than cooked shrimp and should be frozen while fresh.
Lobsters should be frozen live. No glazing is necessary unless the lobster is frozen for longer than four months, as the shell prevents the meat from drying out. In general, frozen shellfish should be treated as frozen fish. Most will keep about three months.
Like the freezing process, the thawing process of shellfish is similar to that of finfish. Thaw shellfish in the refrigerator allowing eighteen to twenty-four hours per pound, or in cold water allowing one to two hours per pound. Cook while partially chilled.
Don't thaw at room temperature or in hot water, and once thawed never refreeze.
Adam Starchild has combined business travel with discovering the delights of native dishes from Hawaii and Hong Kong to Russia and the Caribbean. He is the author of The Seafood Heritage Cookbook (Cornell Maritime Press), co-author of another seafood cookbook, and the author of a number of food and cooking articles.
Submitted By BARRY WEINSTEIN On 08-30-95
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