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13 Different Types of Shellfish To Cook With 

Learn about different kinds of shellfish, from crustaceans to mollusks.

Seafood is one of the most fun types of food to cook with. There is such a wide variety of undersea creatures that can take dishes to the next level. 

Seafood ingredients hard shell

Many cooks focus on fish when it comes to seafood. Unfortunately, this leaves out the many types of shellfish.

Shellfish are quick to cook and can add a unique twist to your favorite seafood dish. Whether you want to add some crunch or some delicate sweetness to your next meal, you will find what you need in the types of shellfish listed below. 

Types of Shellfish

I’ve listed the types of shellfish that will take your next seafood dish to the next level.

Crab

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 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

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.


Clams

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 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

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

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.


Scallops

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 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 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

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 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.


Cuttlefish

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.


Types of Shellfish

  1. Crab
  2. Shrimp
  3. Lobster
  4. Clams
  5. Oysters
  6. Squid
  7. Octopus
  8. Scallops
  9. Mussels
  10. Snails
  11. Prawn
  12. Crayfish
  13. Cuttlefish

Final Thoughts

Now that you are familiar with all the different types of shellfish, you are ready for your next seafood extravaganza. 

Whether its the briny flavors of the oyster or a lobster that tastes delicious when you serve it with some butter and garlic, each shellfish on this list has unique flavors that will bring a new level of excitement to your favorite seafood dishes. 

There may be one versus another that you prefer due to taste, consistency, or food pairing. However, I encourage you to try them all and find out which of these different types of shellfish is your absolute favorite.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.