For many people, their enjoyment of shellfish is largely restricted to restaurant dining. Marsh wants to help you explore shellfish at home. This is an incredibly tasty idea, plus shellfish offer many nutritional benefits.
Shellfish split into two distinct types. They are:
• Crustaceans. Ten legs are the common trait of this very large family of sea creatures. They earn the name shellfish because of their shell-like exterior, or exoskeleton. Marsh offers crab, lobster and shrimp.
• Mollusks. A mollusk is a bivalve, a creature whose body is protected by a two-part shell. These include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, which are all available at Marsh.
Health Benefits of Shellfish
Overeating fat causes problems, but fat of the right type contributes to a healthful diet. In shellfish—including shrimp, clams, scallops, lobsters, crabs and abalones —15 percent or less of the calories come from fat. Even in oysters and mussels, only about 20 to 28 percent of the calories come from fat, according to the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois.
Shellfish also provide high-quality protein and essential amino acids for maintenance and growth of the human body. Though salmon and some other fish provide more omega-3 fatty acids, most shellfish provides beneficial amounts of omega-3. High on the list of these shellfish are oysters, shrimp, mussels, lobsters and crabs. For this reason, shellfish should be considered a low-fat, low-saturated-fat, high-protein food that can be included in a low-fat diet.
Note: Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s proper growth and development, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. Therefore, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Types of Shellfish
Crabs: With meat that is succulent, sweet and refreshing, crabs are quick and easy to serve. King crab legs and snow crab clusters (legs with a portion of body meat attached) come precooked, so all you need to do is boil the pieces for about 3 to 5 minutes. For a casual dinner, serve crab in the shell; diners will crack shells and scoop out the meat. Be prepared for comments and laughter. Or, you can remove the pristine white crab meat and use it in Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms or a Crab Salad, made with mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice and spices.
Lobsters: Because lobster needs to be alive when boiled, many Marsh stores have a lobster tank where the animals are kept. Like all shellfish, it’s easy to cook lobster—just put them in salted boiling water. Depending on the size of the animal, dinner will be ready in 12 to 18 minutes.
Shrimp: This is the go-to shellfish for many of us. Part of the draw is the variety in size: tiny shrimp work well in a rice dish, medium shrimp are at home in a shrimp cocktail and jumbo shrimp make the start of a great fried-shrimp dinner. Marsh offers shrimp any way you want it: wild or farmed, precooked or raw, shell on or shell off, and large to small across the range. There’s a place for shrimp in every cuisine, from Mexican to Indian to Italian.
Clams: Clambakes and clam chowder have avid fans across the nation for good reason. The meat, which is best when fresh, is slightly sweet. Marsh offers 2-inch Little Neck clams, slightly larger Middle Necks and 3- to 4-inch Cherrystones. Clams are usually steamed or baked, but don’t overcook as this will toughen the clam meat.
Mussels: A versatile seafood, mussels can be steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried. But you must start with a mussel that is still alive. After its demise, a mussel goes bad very quickly. Like other shellfish, the meat is slightly sweet. It’s another mollusk that will toughen as you cook it, so don’t overcook.
Oysters: For the adventurous, oysters on the half shell are a treat. Simply place a couple of oysters on a shell, spoon on some sauce—salsa is a good choice—and suck down the contents. The meat is also good batter-fried, sautéed and used in soups and stews.
Scallops: The delicate fan-shaped shells are an iconic treasure of the ocean. The bite-size clump of meat inside the shell is a light treat that’s a little creamy and briny. Great for grilling, they are tempting on a kabob skewer accompanied by green peppers, tomatoes and onion.
Serving Precooked Shellfish Methods
Easy as Boiling Water Most shellfish is precooked, making preparations a very simple matter. You simply place the thawed shellfish in a pot of boiling water and heat. This works for shrimp, crabs, lobster and most shellfish.
Boiling time varies with the thickness of the shellfish. Small shrimp are ready in less than a minute. A crab leg or lobster tail may take 2 minutes. A full crab takes about 3 to 4 minutes.