Category Archives: How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

Freezing Shellfish and Storage Times

How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Storage Times

frozen-shrimpIdeally, all frozen seafood should be used within two months for maximum quality. When properly frozen, lean fish such as flounder and catfish should maintain quality up to six months. Fatty fish such as bluefish, mackerel and mullet should be used within three months.

Shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters and crabs can be stored up to three months. The sooner fish and shellfish are frozen after harvest, the longer the shelf life will be.

Shrimp…

  • should be headed and frozen in their shells in freezer containers. After filling the carton, cover the shrimp with ice water, leaving enough head space for the water to expand when frozen. Use small or medium containers so that the shrimp will freeze more quickly.

Scallops…

  • should be shucked and frozen in airtight containers.

Clams and oysters…

  • are best frozen in their shells, which makes them easy to shuck with no loss of juice. This is not always practical and they can be shucked and frozen in airtight containers.

Blue crabs…

  • should be cleaned and cooked before freezing. Freeze the cores and claws and thaw them before picking the meat out. The quality of the crabmeat will be superior to that of frozen, picked meat that undergoes significant textural changes.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

How to Dress and Fillet Lionfish

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant’s seafood technology and marketing specialist, demonstrates how to dress and fillet the invasive lionfish.

a

To avoid being stung, use puncture-proof gloves when handling a lionfish with its spines intact. To clip the dorsal spines, hold the fish by the head, and using heavy kitchen shears, start cutting at the rear of the fish and work forward. This prevents the spines from lying flat along the back. Clip only the first spine of each pelvic fin and the first three of the anal fin. The remaining are rays and are not venomous. It is not necessary to clip the tail or pectoral fins.

Morris, James. Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management. http://lionfish.gcfi.org/manual: 36.

cRemove the scales with a fish scaler or the dull side of a knife.

dCut around pelvic fins and remove viscera and all black membranes and blood, particularly the blood streak running along the backbone.

eRinse the fish well – with attention to the belly cavity – under cold, running  water.

fCut the flesh just above the tail.

gAt the pectoral fin, just behind the head, cut into the flesh at a 45-degree angle toward the head until the knife reaches the backbone.

hTurn the knife and follow the backbone to the tail, keeping the knife against the backbone. Or, if you prefer, reverse this and cut from the tail to the head. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Always direct the knife away from you when filleting.

i

Remove the fillet and rinse it well under cold, running water.

Taylor, Joyce. Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas. North Carolina Sea Grant: 48-49.

jThe skin is edible, so it can be left on the fillet or removed.

Contributed by Barry Nash

Opening Scallops

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Scallops are marketed shucked, but you can open the ones that you harvest from approved water.

Insert knife blade between shells to part them.

open-scallops-1

Run blade inside one shell to cut muscle.

open-scallops2

Break hinge open and discard top shell.

open-scallops3

Insert knife under viscera and, by pinching viscera between knife and your thumb, push up so that viscera peels away from the white flesh. Discard viscera.

open-scallops4

Run knife under muscle to free it from remaining shell. Rinse shucked scallops well under cold, running water.

open-scallops5

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Opening Clams

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Method 1

The easiest way to open clams is to freeze them, then hold under cold, running water for about 45 seconds.

You can then easily insert the knife. Cut inside muscles and scrape meat free from top and bottom. This method also saves the clam liquid, which is still frozen around the clam.

Method 2

In back of clam near the hinge, find a black ligament. Follow to the front, where the ligament ends in a weak spot. Insert knife at this spot.

Inside are two muscles. Run knife around the shell to sever these.

Insert knife in front of shell and scrape meat free from top and bottom.

Method 3

Scrape edge of shell on a cement block or other rough surface to break away some shell and provide an opening for the knife.

Insert knife and cut muscles. Then go in front and cut meat free.

Serving

In all three methods, the clam is ready to cook or serve on the half-shell. Before eating or serving raw shellfish, see the safety discussion here.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Transporting and Dressing Live Crabs

How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Live shellfish can be successfully transported, but great care must be taken to ensure food safety.

A cooler makes the most practical container for holding shellfish during travel.

Crabs

Place 3 to 4 inches of ice in the bottom of the cooler. Cover the ice with waxed cardboard or plastic foam in which holes have been punched. This allows the cold to escape, but keeps the crabs out of contact with ice or water. Place the crabs on the cardboard or foam and cover them with damp burlap or several layers of damp cheesecloth. Leave the cooler lid slightly ajar for air circulation.

Maintain a temperature of 40 F to 50 F. The crabs will be inactive, but they will revive when removed from the cold temperature. Limit holding time to one day. Do not use any crabs that die. Live crabs show movement of the legs.

Dressing Live Crabs

Pick up crab by one or both back flippers so that claws cannot pinch you.

Turn crab over and stab straight down at the point of apron. Make two cuts from this point to form a V-pattern that will remove the face of the crab (eyes and mouth).

Do not remove knife after removing the face. Firmly press crab shell on cutting surface without breaking the shell. With other hand, grasp crab by legs and claws on the side where you are holding the knife. Pull up. This should pull the crab body free from the shell.

Remove gray, feathery gills, often called “dead men,” which are attached just above the legs. Cut and scrape upward to remove them.

Remove all loose material — viscera and eggs —from the cavity.

If apron did not come loose with the shell, remove it. Rinse dressed crab thoroughly under cold, running water. The dressed crab can be used whole or halved.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Cleaning Soft-Shell Crabs

How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

(printer-friendly version)

The thought of cleaning soft-shell crabs can be intimidating however, after a few steps explained below, you will quickly have them ready for the frying pan.

With scissors, cut across body just behind eyes to remove face.

Turn crab on its back. Lift and remove apron and vein attached to it.

Turn crab over and lift one side of top shell.

With small knife, scrape off grayish-white gill. Repeat on other side. Rinse crab gently under cold, running water, then pat dry.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Opening Oysters

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Get your oyster knives ready! Oyster season opens October 15, 2011. For more information regarding oyster regulations and harvesting visit the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Below are methods on how to open oysters.

Opening Oysters

Oyster shells are especially sharp. Be sure to wear gloves.

Method 1

Chip off thin lip of oyster until there is a small opening.

Insert oyster knife and cut muscle from top and bottom shells. Twist knife and pop oyster open.

Method 2

Work oyster knife into front of oyster, opposite the hinge.

Insert knife and cut muscle from top and bottom shell. Twist knife and pop oyster open.

Method 3

Insert oyster knife at hinge and twist to pop open.

Insert knife at front and cut muscle from top and bottom shell.

Serving

In all three methods, the oyster is ready to cook or serve on the half-shell.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor