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Quality points for purchasing fresh shellfish

  • Purchase from a reputable supplier

  • Purchase alive and raw where possible; crustaceans (crab, lobsters etc) should be quite animated when touched or handled

  • Clawed crustaceans such as crab and lobster, should have strong rubber bands placed on their claws to prevent injury to handler

  • Bi-valve molluscs, these have two shells - oysters, mussels. etc and should be tightly shut, if the shells are partially open they should clamp shut when tapped (discard any that do not as it means they are dead)

  • Should have a fresh briny aroma and no sign of an ammonia smell

Storage and handling of fresh shellfish

  • Store at 0°C, preferably in the chiller on a bed of ice

  • Crustaceans should be kept in a covered container with a weight placed on top to prevent them from escaping

  • Molluscs in a covered container with a weight placed on top to prevent them from opening

  • Handle as little as possible

  • Prepare with and on thoroughly clean utensils and equipment and with clean hands

Cooking fresh shellfish

While care must be taken to thoroughly cook certain shellfish; to destroy any pathogens (food poisoning bacteria) generally they are cooked as with fish to a minimum or they become tough and inedible.

Certain shellfish are commonly served raw; such as oysters with many more in Asia commonly served in their uncooked state; as in the Japanese sashimi dish. To serve any shellfish raw, extra care must be taken with the quality of the product. Only the freshest should be used, with special attention paid to their storage and preparation in regards to hygiene standards. To this end, in Japan the shellfish is always kept alive until just prior to preparation.

Live lobsters and NZ rock lobsters/crayfish should first be placed in the chiller until they are inactive, this basically renders them unconscious. They may then either be killed by the Japanese method of ikajime; spiking them through the head or cutting the head in half if intending to cook the flesh out of the shell. If the whole animal is to be cooked via boiling spiking may be forgone and cooking them as below is recommended as the most humane method and also best for the flesh.

Cooking Lobster / Crayfish

Always place the live lobster/crayfish in cold salted water or court bouillon achieves three important points:

  • It kills the crayfish in a humane manner

  • It gently cooks the flesh; plunging into boiling liquid will shock the flesh and toughen it

  • It keeps the legs attached to the body; plunging into boiling liquid will shock the flesh and cause them to fall off

Boiled Lobsters / New Zealand Crayfish / Crawfish

  • Place them in cold salted water or a court bouillon (see recipe below) and bring slowly to the boil

  • Simmer for 12 minutes per 500 gm

  • Remove and allow to cool

  • They may then be cut in half or the tail removed and cut open, the flesh removed and sautéed with flavoured butter - garlic, lemon, etc - or chilled and served cold with mayonnaise, salsa, etc

  • Lobster/Crayfish in a an orange and dill sauce (using cooked flesh) is simplicity itself but produces a wonderfully light dish. The orange and dill compliments lobster/NZ crayfish so well and will not mask the wonderful shellfish flavour.



Food and Cooking Tips
from professional
Chef Tallyrand


Born and raised in Plymouth, Tallyrand started his initial training as a chef at Plymouth College of Further Education. It was here that he was to learn his love, his passion for food and the culinary arts. From here he headed to Germany to complete his apprenticeship as Commis de Gardemanger.

Germany gave him his first taste of cooking for the rich and famous, as half way through his first year, along with the Sous Chef and a Chef de Partie, he was whisked off to Cologne to help prepare meals for a political conference, where amongst other dignitaries they cooked for Mr Brehznev, the then powerful Russian leader. This was to prove to be just one of the many celebrities he was to cook for or get to know over the years . . .

If you would like to find out more why not visit Tallyrand's own web site www.tallyrand.info (link in main menu)

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com