Preparing Shellfish

Appears in

A Feast of Fish

A Feast of Fish

By Ian McAndrew

Published 1989

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The preparation of shellfish is a little more varied than that of other fish because there are so many types and so many ways of using them.

Lobsters, when bought alive, must first be killed before using. Depending on the recipe, there are a number of ways of carrying out this task, some of which are definitely not for the squeamish. If cooking the lobster whole, it should first be killed by plunging a trussing needle deep into its head between the eyes; a method that is supposed to be quick and humane, although I am a little dubious as to whether it is or not. It can also be plunged into boiling court bouillon while still alive, and again death is quick. Crabs too are treated in the same way, although if a live crab is plunged straight into a boiling liquid it has a tendency to shed its claws. When roasting or grilling a lobster or removing its meat for a mousseline, cut through the head with one swift movement using the point of a heavy, sharp knife. Whichever way you prepare the lobster, once killed it will not just lie still. Nervous reaction will make the fish jump and move about, sometimes quite considerably, so it is best to be mentally prepared for this happening.