Proof logo

The 9 Most Well-liked Varieties of Shellfish.

Similar in size to the oceans themselves, the world of shellfish is diverse.

By Hijer SamattaPublished 3 months ago 8 min read

When it comes to seafood, the term "shellfish" refers to a wide variety of bivalves and crustaceans (species with legs that enable them to swim or crawl) (the hard-shelled and more stationary varieties like clams, oysters, and mussels).

Fun fact: Because they are considered mollusks, cephalopods like octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are also considered shellfish despite not having external shells.

You can always enjoy your favorite shellfish because it is produced and grown in the entire country of the United States. Find a trustworthy fish market, advises retired commercial fisherman and owner of a farmstand on the North Shore of Long Island, New York, John Carson, to get the freshest shellfish possible. You won't do much better unless you walk outside and capture it yourself.

Shellfish Varieties

1). Prawns

Despite being in separate sub-orders biologically, shrimp and prawns taste and feel extremely similar to one another. Unlike shrimp, which curl up into a C shape when cooked, prawns only exist in fresh water. They are also typically larger than shrimp.

The wild spot prawn season, which varies by area and lasts from February to November, is well-known along the West Coast from California to Canada. The size of prawns makes them suitable for a main entrée. They can be grilled on skewers like shrimp or served in a Filipino coconut stew.

2). Crawfish

With their thick claws, crawfish, sometimes known as crayfish or crawdads, resemble miniature lobsters, depending on where you reside. Because they reside in freshwater rivers, streams, and ponds rather than saltwater bodies of water, these tiny crustaceans are not genetically lobsters. However, when cooked, crawfish resembles lobster in both flavor and texture.

The best time to eat crawfish in Southern Gulf states like Louisiana, where they are frequently found, is from late winter to early spring. The season changes depending on the weather because they are wild animals and not agricultural animals.

While crawfish are great when served alone as the main course of a crawfish boil, they also go well with rich, creamy sauces like those found in pasta or party dips.

3). Crabs

Similar to shrimp, crabs are a huge and diverse group of crustaceans that can be found in both salt and fresh water. The majority of the crabs we enjoy eating have a hard shell called a carapace and big front claws, or pincers. The hermit crab is a type of crab. They come in a broad variety of sizes, from giant Alaskan snow and king crab to smaller East Coast blue crabs, which are excellent candidates for Old Bay seasoning.

Other common crab kinds include Dungeness in the Pacific Northwest, stone crab (of which we only eat the claws) in Florida and the South, peekytoe or rock crab along the East Coast, and Jonah crab in Maine.

To use in recipes, crab meat can be taken out of freshly steamed or boiled crabs or bought pre-picked. It is flakier and softer than shrimp or lobster meat. Make traditional crab cakes or splurge on hot crab dip.

4). Scallops

Bivalve mollusks with fluted (or scalloped!) edges on a saucer-shaped shell are known as scallops. Bivalves, which include scallops, oysters, clams, and mussels, are essentially mollusks, and when we eat them, we're actually consuming the adductor muscle that keeps the shell's hinges open and closed.

Bay and sea scallops, which differ in size and habitat, are the two most common varieties of scallops. Neither sea scallops nor bay scallops can be found in the ocean, according to Carson.

The tiny, popcorn-sized kind of bay scallops is excellent for adding to foods like spaghetti. The larger kind, known as sea scallops, is generally served as the main element in dishes and is seared. With a saline sweetness, both have a very delicate flavor and texture.

Sea scallops are best found in the Northeastern United States, but bay scallops can thrive in warm water, according to Carson, so you may find them in the Middle Atlantic all the way down to Florida, where a variation known as Calico scallops are caught.

Bay scallops can be added to homemade fried rice, served over risotto, or served as a vintage starter with bacon-wrapped scallops

5). Clams

The two shellfish that dominate the New England coastline are clams and lobster, which are both prized delicacies there. However, they also have territory throughout the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, where they can be found making sandcastles in the tidal zones and on numerous beaches. As a food that is foraged from the wild, clams are always accessible.

The majority of people are familiar with hard clams, which go by a variety of names, Carson added. The terms "quahog," "littleneck," "cherrystone," and "chowder" refer to various sizes of the same clam species. The shells of steamers are a little bit softer, and surf clams are usually cut into strips for fried clam strips.

Geoducks are distinguished by their nearly obscenely projecting siphon along the Pacific coast, and Manila clams have small, purple-mottled shells (often sliced for sushi). with their long, thin, oblong shells, razor clams are an anomaly within the clam family.

However, "the bigger ones are usually cooked one way or the other," according to Carson. Smaller clams can be served as part of a raw bar tower. For a quick dinner, get your hands on some fresh clams and steam them in white wine and garlic, or make linguine alla vongole.

6). Mussels

Another kind of bivalve mollusk is the mussel. The marine blue mussels are the ones with a shiny black oval shell and a very soft and sweet inner edible muscle. They attach to rocks and other surfaces in the shallow intertidal areas along saltwater coastlines. Otters prefer freshwater mussels above humans (in general)!

The Pacific Northwest seas around Washington and British Columbia and Prince Edward Island in the North Atlantic are two of the most well-known growth places for mussels, which are a type of shellfish that can be found worldwide. The popularity of farmed mussels is rising despite the fact that they can also be taken from the wild.

Numerous tasty sauces, such as Thai curry and Italian white wine pasta sauce, go well with steamed mussels since they are simple to prepare and quick to cook.

7). Lobster

Although there are numerous species of crustaceans that can be found in oceans all over the world, lobster is the one that is most closely associated with Maine and New England. Homarus americanus, sometimes known as the American lobster, is the hard-shelled lobster with the brightest red color when cooked.

The second half of the year is regarded as lobster season, yet lobsters are taken from their rocky bottom homes throughout the entire year. The most meat will be available to harvest when the lobsters are at their largest.

The most common way to eat a lobster is to boil it or steam it before cracking it open at the table. A less time-consuming option is to choose a full lobster tail, or you can have lobster rolls and act like you're at the beach.

8). Shrimp

When preparing and eating shrimp, their flexible exterior shells can be easily peeled off. Shrimp are crustaceans. It's not surprising that you can find shrimp in both warm and cold, fresh and saltwater, bodies of water because there are about 2,000 different species of them. Shrimp also have a tender texture and are excellent swimmers.

You'll probably be eating white, pink, and brown shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, which supplies the majority of wild-caught shrimp in the United States. According to Carson, historically, "Maine is famed for its red shrimp," which refers to the tiny Northern shrimp that are present throughout the chilly waters off the coast of the Northeast. However, due to a small population, commercial fishing of Northern shrimp has been outlawed for a while.

The majority of the farmed shrimp that is currently available on the market originates from Southeast Asia, where issues with laws and the environment have been brought up. But with an emphasis on sustainability, American shrimp aquaculture is on the increase.

There are a ton of possibilities if shrimp is what you're craving. Create a traditional shrimp scampi dish, grill shrimp for tacos, or serve crispy air-fried shrimp as a snack.

9). Oysters

The bivalve that is consumed raw the most is the oyster. Oysters are saltwater creatures that have rough shells and luscious, brackish meat. American oysters can be found on both the East and West coasts, but are more frequently found in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Oysters, however, also flourish in the Bay Area of California, the Gulf Coast, and the Chesapeake Bay region.

Before widespread refrigeration, people avoided eating wild oysters when they were in their warm-water spawning season, which gave rise to the ancient saying that you should only eat oysters in months that begin with the letter R. As a result of the expansion of oyster farms along both coasts and the implementation of food safety standards, it is now safe for people to consume oysters throughout the year, according to Carson.

Oysters don't require much to shine: Lemon wedges, mignonette, or cocktail sauce are common accompaniments after they have been shucked. Or prepare a classic oyster Rockefeller.



About the Creator

Hijer Samatta

As a writer, I can live and love through the means of writing, can express the most fearless ideas through simple words.

Words can save life, I think….I write….I dream…

My mind controls my pen, we don’t always think logically but emotionally.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.