Cleaning and shucking shellfish

Yield: 1 servings

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Cleaning and Shucking Shellfish Several forms of shellfish, including such favorites as crabs, scallops, lobsters, shrimp, and periwinkles may be purchased live in the shell. They will need to be cleaned or shucked. In most cases the only tool you'll need is a knife or kitchen shears. To clean crabs, the first step is to turn the crab upside down and grasp the legs on one side with one hand. With your other hand, lift the flap and pull back and down to remove the top shell. Now turn the crab right side up and remove the intestines and gills. Pull the claws and legs off and remove any meat that clings to the claws. Remove the meat from the top of the inner skeleton with your knife. Remove the meat on the back of the crab with a slicing, digging motion of your knife. You can remove the meat from any pockets with the point of your knife. Finally, crack the claw shell and remove the meat there.

To shuck oysters, you will need an oyster knife and a pair of gloves.

An oyster knife has a strong wedge-shaped blade that is designed to withstand the force necessary to open oysters. The first step is to rinse the oyster. Then grasp the oyster with one hand, holding the hinged side toward your other hand. Look for the small crevice that is situated at the hinge. Slip the oyster knife into this crevice and twist, cutting the hinge. After the hinge is broken, slide the knife along the shell and sever the abductor muscle. Now remove the top shell. Carefully slip the knife under the oyster and cut the muscle from the bottom shell. Clean away any shell particles or other debris. For very large oysters it may be necessary first to break the thin end of the shell with a hammer to make an opening for the knife.

After this is done, follow the

previous procedure.

To shuck a scallop, grasp it so that the shell's hinge rest against your palm. Slip a thin, strong knife inside the shell near the hinge and twist. Be careful not to force the shell open, for this will tear the muscle. Lift the top side of the shell and cut the muscle from the top shell. After removing the top shell, clean out the viscera by gripping the scallop between your thumb and knife blade and pulling.

Everything but the edible white scallop meat should be removed. Cut the muscle from the remaining shell and wash the meat in cold water.

To clean boiled lobster or prepare green lobster for baking use the following instructions. First, lay the lobster on its back. Using a sharp knife, cut the lobster in half lengthwise. Next remove the stomach, being sure to also remove the intestinal vein which runs from the stomach to the tail. Clean the body cavity thoroughly by rinsing with cold water. The green lobster is now ready for baking. If the lobster is boiled and you need to remove the meat from the shell, take a sharp knife and loosen the meat from the edges of the shell. Use a fork to get hold of the meat at the tail, then remove it by lifting upward and pulling the meat toward the head, away from the shell.

To clean shrimp for simmering, hold the tail section in one hand while positioning the swimmerettes down toward the palm of your hand.

Insert one blade of kitchen shears into the sand vein opening, and cut through the shell along the outer curve to the end of the tail.

Remove the meat by pulling the sides of the shell apart. Clean thoroughly in cold water.

Cleaning shrimp for broiling is a slightly different process. First, place the shrimp on a cutting board with the swimmerettes exposed.

Using a sharp knife, cut between the swimmerettes through the meat to the shell. Spread the shell until it lies flat, and wash thoroughly in cold water.

To remove the meat of periwinkles, steam or boil them in salted water until they begin to emerge from their shells. Now, with a lobster pick or similar, pointed object, pry out the meat. Their operculum, the clear trap door, is not edible and if it did not fall off during steaming, should be removed. The periwinkles may be eaten right after boiling.

: About the Author

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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