Shellfish and Their Special Qualities

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Though shellfish have much in common with finfish and are cooked in many of the same ways, they’re also distinctive. Most of the shellfish we eat are creatures from one of two groups, the crustaceans and the molluscs. Unlike true fish, these creatures are invertebrates: they don’t have a backbone or internal skeleton; and most of them don’t swim much. Their body tissues are therefore organized differently, undergo different kinds of seasonal changes, and require special treatment from the cook.