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13 Different Types of Shellfish to Eat 

Seafood ingredients hard shell

Explore the fascinating world of shellfish and immerse yourself in the wonderful abundance of the ocean. This article is an all-inclusive guide to the varied and delicious options from below the waves, from tender shrimp to rich lobster. Learn about the distinct tastes, textures, and culinary opportunities that each type of shellfish offers. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or a seafood expert, come along on a culinary tour that explores the unique qualities of different shellfish and illuminates their health advantages as well as the finest ways to prepare and enjoy them. With this tour of the gastronomic wonders of the ocean, get ready to have your taste buds tantalized and your repertory of seafood expanded.

Crab

Cooked crabs on black plate served with white wine, black slate background, top view

Although crab takes a bit of effort to enjoy, it is well worth it.  Crab makes this list of types of shellfish due to its succulent and sweet meat. You can prepare crab in various ways, including steaming, sauteing, and grilling. Regardless of how you cook it, don’t forget to add some butter. Most of a crab’s meat is located in the legs and claws. However, if you purchase softshell crab, you can eat the whole thing!  You can use crab in pasta, dips, and crab cakes. It is also a great addition to sushi. If you are looking for a delicious meal, then crab is the way to go. 


Shrimp

Shrimp
Source: Instagram

Shrimp is perhaps the most famous and widely known seafood on this shellfish list.  Different types of shrimp are widely available, easy to prepare, and delicious. Shrimp is one of the best types of shellfish for individuals who are health conscious. Shrimp is loaded with protein and has minimal amounts of calories and fat. You can prepare shrimp in various ways, including grilling, sauteing, frying, and boiling. They make a great addition to pasta dishes, salads, soups, and seafood boils. Shrimp goes well with raw or cooked vegetables, fruit, and citrus flavors. You can serve them hot or cold. Shrimp is the way to go if you want a crowd-pleasing meal that you can put together quickly.


Lobster

Lobster
Source: Instagram

Of all the different types of shellfish, lobster reigns supreme. Ironically, lobster used to be so plentiful that only the poorest people ate it. As demand has skyrocketed, it has become more and more expensive due to its delectable flavor and oh-so-tender texture. There are two types of lobster available: American lobster and spiny lobster. American lobster is the most popular type of lobster. It has large claws, which can be cooked and enjoyed whole. Lobster is a versatile ingredient used in everything from soups to pasta to seafood boils. It pairs well with butter, lemon, and garlic. If you are looking for a decadent and luxurious meal, lobster is the way to go. Whether you are enjoying it steamed, grilled, or baked, there’s no doubt that it will be a hit with your guests.

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Clams

Clams
Source: Instagram

Of all the types of shellfish, clams are perhaps the sweetest.  They have a delightfully rich flavor that pops on your palette. Clams are also very versatile, and you can use them in a variety of dishes, from chowders to pasta. You can enjoy clams cooked or raw. If you choose to cook clams, steaming is the best method. This will help to bring out their natural sweetness. To get the most flavor out of clams, add a bit of butter or olive oil while cooking. This will help release their natural juices and create a delicious sauce for your dish.


Oysters

Oysters
Source: Instagram

Oysters are one of my favorite types of shellfish. Although they are less visually appealing than their other bivalve cousins, their taste is unmatched. Oysters have a briny flavor that is both salty and sweet. People often compare them to the ocean due to their distinct taste. You can enjoy oysters cooked or raw. If you are going to eat oysters raw, make sure that you purchase them from a reputable source, and they are in peak season. You can cook oysters using a variety of methods, including grilling, broiling, and frying. To get the most flavor out of oysters, pair them with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. This will help to enhance their briny flavor and make them even more delicious.


Squid

Squid
Source: Instagram

Calamari is the most well-known way to cook squid, but there are so many other ways that you can enjoy this delightful sea creature. If you enjoy seafood, then squid is a must-try. Squid has a slightly chewy but melt-in-your-mouth texture. Squid has a mild flavor that is reminiscent of the ocean. You can enjoy squid cooked or raw. It pairs well with both light and bold flavors. When cooking squid, it is essential not to overcook it as this will make it tough.


Octopus

Octopus
Source: Instagram

Of the different types of shellfish, the octopus is the genius of the bunch, and they have a taste to match their brains. Octopus is a common ingredient in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Octopus has a slightly chewy texture with a mild, sweet flavor. It pairs well with bold flavors such as garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. Octopus can be enjoyed cooked or raw and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to pasta.  When cooking octopus, it is essential not to overcook it, as this will make it tough and rubbery. If you are looking for a unique seafood dish to try, be sure to give octopus a try.

See also  11 Best Types of Fish to Eat

Scallops

Scallops
Source: Instagram

Scallops are one of the sneakiest types of shellfish.  Many people do not know they have a shell because it is removed before serving. Scallops are one of the most tender and tasty seafood options available. Scallops have a slightly sweet flavor that pairs beautifully with bold and spicy flavors. You can enjoy scallops cooked or raw, though most people prefer them cooked. When cooking scallops, it is essential to avoid overcooking, which makes them tough and rubbery. Scallops are best enjoyed when they are slightly seared on the outside but still soft and juicy on the inside.


Mussels

Mussels
Source: Instagram

Mussels in wine sauce are one of the most refined pleasures in life.  However, it is far from the only way to enjoy this type of shellfish. Mussels are a common ingredient in both French and Italian dishes. Mussels have a slightly sweet and salty flavor that pairs well with bold flavors such as garlic, onions, and chilies. You can mussels cooked or raw and pair them with pasta or rice. It is essential to steam them until they are barely open when cooking mussels. This will help to ensure that they are cooked all the way through without becoming rubbery.


Snails

Snails
Source: Instagram

Snails are one of the most commonly overlooked types of shellfish, known mostly for their use in French cuisine. Many people are put off by the associations that they have with them. However, snails are a delicious and healthy seafood option. Snails have a slightly chewy texture with a mild flavor that pairs well with light and bold flavors. You can enjoy them cooked or raw, although most people prefer them cooked. When cooking snails, it is essential to avoid overcooking as this will make them tough and rubbery. Snails are best enjoyed when they are slightly seared on the outside but still soft and juicy on the inside.


Prawn

Prawn
Source: Instagram

Prawns are one of the most exciting types of shellfish. They are like a cross between a shrimp and a lobster and are a common ingredient in many different types of cuisine. Prawns have a moderately chewy texture with a sweet and somewhat salty flavor. They pair well with bold flavors such as garlic, ginger, and chilies. You can enjoy prawns cooked or raw and use them in soups, stews, and stir-fries. When cooking prawns, it is essential to avoid overcooking them, as this will make them tough and rubbery.


Crayfish

Crayfish
Source: Instagram

Crayfish are a favorite part of cajun cuisine and are most commonly eaten in seafood boils.  Crayfish have a slightly sweet and salty flavor that pairs beautifully with bold flavors such as garlic, onions, and chilies. Crayfish make a delicious addition to soups, stews, and casseroles. When cooking crayfish, it is essential to avoid overcooking them as this will make them tough and rubbery. Crayfish are best enjoyed when cooked in a well-seasoned broth that penetrates the shells of the crayfish. The tail of a crawfish is similar to a lobster tail. It is sweet and succulent. However, don’t forget to suck the liquids out of the body of the crawfish. This is arguably the most flavor-packed part of the entire shellfish.

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Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish
Source: Instagram

Cuttlefish is one of the more obscure types of shellfish. It is less popular than octopus and squid but is worth a try. Cuttlefish have a slightly chewy texture and a mild flavor. They pair well with light flavors, such as citrus and herbs, but can also handle bold flavors such as garlic and chilies. Cuttlefish must be booked quickly and at a high temperature or low and slow to tenderize the connective tissue. You can use cuttlefish in soups, stews, and stir-fries.  When cooking cuttlefish, it is essential to avoid overcooking, as this will make them tough and rubbery.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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