The Proper Way To Handle Shellfish

Seafood has a multitude of fans due to its versatility and delicious taste. Its health benefits are many and many homes serve fish or other seafood at least once a week. In spite of all the positives that seafood has, there is the scare of being food poisoned. Shellfish are a very common type of seafood that carries a risk of food poisoning due to its perish ability. Therefore, it is necessary for individuals to practice meticulous care and caution when dealing with it.

Where to buy it.

Fresh shellfish are normally hard to find, as what may seem to be fresh may turn out to be full of dangerous bacterium and all sorts of harmful germs naked to the eyes. If you are trying to look for the cleanest and safest shellfish you should go and visit your local fishing authorities and seek their input as to the whereabouts of the fishing area that are deemed to be safe by them. Otherwise, you will need to get your shellfish supply from the local market. One note before purchasing anything from the market is to ensure that the turnover of the stocks are fast so that the chances of your seafood being freshly caught is higher as a result.

How to check the freshness of the shellfish

There are some indicators that are considered vital when buying shellfish. The first sign is the appearance of the shellfish. The shellfish must look fresh and the shell must be clammed shut or clam shut when tapped. This is mainly for scallops, clams, oysters and mussels. Prawns must be firm and able to spring back up when pressed. The second factor that should be considered is the smell of the fish. A sharp ammonia smell usually means that they are well past their sell-by date. The aroma should be that of the ocean; clear distinct sea water. These signs are essential guidelines which will definitely help to spot shellfish that is not fresh.


Bacterium or microorganisms can also contaminate the shellfish during their storage period when the fishing boat or ship is heading back to shore. You have to choose the shellfish storage method according to their type and variety. The general rule with seafood storage is that it should not be kept for more than one or two days before it is cooked. This is to prevent conditions that allow bacteria and germ growth. The perfect storage condition is using an airtight container and fill it completely with ice so that the temperature inside remains cold during the journey home. An environment that is hot with high temperature will only encourage the spread of the harmful bacterium therefore it is important to control the container's temperature. If you have mussels, clams and oysters which are alive, then store them in a container which is well ventilated and using a wet cloth to cover the top cover of the container.

Preparing and cooking the seafood

If defrosting is required before cooking, then do it by placing the shellfish under a running tap. Make sure you cook the shellfish until there aren't any raw parts left so that you don't face extensive risk of food poisoning. Start the preparation process by first cleaning the outer shell of the seafood. Scrub off the dirt, gravel and stones by using a small brush or the blunt part of the knife and wash it thoroughly after that. When cooking the food, make sure you are watching the cooking process of the shellfish carefully. When the shellfish's shell starts to open it means that it is almost cooked so just leave the shellfish there for another two to three minutes so any leftover bacteria is killed off. If you are cooking the seafood using the steaming method, try and steam it for as long as possible without ruining the food so that the extreme temperature can kill any bacterium living in the shellfish.

If you plan to cook seafood dishes for your next family dinner then it is necessary to sanitize and clean the kitchen itself and also the cooking and eating utensils that you will be using. Differentiate the utensils that you will be using for preparing the raw food and when you are handling the cooked food to prevent health problems. If the cooked seafood is meant for picnic then separate the hot and cold food and use different containers and storage so that they can maintain their own temperature. Do not let any pregnant ladies or older people make contact with the raw seafood material because they are more prone to be affected by the raw food's bacteria. The safest way to enjoy the taste of seafood is when it is eaten in a clean and non-contaminated environment.

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About The Author, Robert Packer
Robert Packer’s favorite pastime is the gathering of shellfish near the coast of California where he lives. As a seafood lover, he also suggests that people try the food at Roseville Seafood Restaurant where some of the best seafood dishes can be found.