Cooking shellfish

Yield: 1 servings

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Cooking Shellfish

Since overcooking toughens the meat, shellfish should not be overcooked. Mollusks, including oysters and clams, are done when the shells open or the meat begins to curl on the edges. Crustaceans, including lobster and shrimp, are done when they turn red or bright pink.

Like finfish, the shellfish can be cooked in a variety of manners. In addition some may be eaten raw. Oysters, clams, and scallops may be eaten raw. They are truly gourmet fare since the flavor is delicate and the meat tender. You can remove the meat of shellfish by slipping a knife between the shells and prying them open. To serve, place half of the shell and muscles on cracked ice. This keeps the raw meat cold and is attractive and appetizing as well.

The boiling or steaming methods vary from mollusks to crustaceans.

Both should be alive when placed in boiling water. Lobsters and crabs should be boiled in salted water for about twenty minutes. Clams, oysters and scallops should be placed on a rack in a deep pot or kettle so the water does not touch them. After five minutes the shells should open which indicates they are done. Discard any shells that do not open, for this indicates the shellfish was dead prior to cooking. You may serve the shellfish in the shell or you may remove the meat prior to cooking.

Broiling -- Shucked mollusks, lobster tails, crab legs, shelled shrimp, and whole shellfish are often broiled. Due to the direct heat the meat is quickly cooked and as such is moist. Broiling may not be limited to the kitchen. Grills, hibachis, and rotisseries employ the same cooking techniques. Whole shellfish must be killed prior to broiling. Plunge the shellfish into boiling water or sever the spinal cord. Then split the shellfish and remove the inedible organs. Baste with melted butter during broiling. The shellfish may be seasoned with salt and pepper.

Baking -- Raw shellfish and cooked shellfish are used in baking. Raw shellfish bakes in the same fashion as it broils. Shellfish such as oysters, clams, and scallops which are eaten raw may be included in a baking dish without previous preparation. Cooked meat is often combined with other ingredients and baked in a casserole or as an appetizer.

Frying -- Most shellfish except lobster may be fried. Deep- fat frying takes from two to five minutes and panfrying takes five to ten minutes. Shuck or remove any portions of shell and inedible parts.

Use an egg batter to dip whole shellfish or chunks of meat. Then bread with a mixture of crumbs and flour or a packaged mix.

: 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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