In an earlier post I listed my favorite fish, so now I’m following up with my top 5 favorite Shellfish. Just like for fish, it was really hard to actually rank them. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to shellfish, I get cravings for certain species at different times. I ordered them based upon my top cravings, but there are several others I had to give an “honorable mention” at the bottom. Feel free to share your list in the comments!
Soft Shell Clams
I love steamers, but fried clams are my kryptonite – I’m absolutely powerless in the face of these golden-brown beauties. They were invented a century ago down the street from where I work and there are several places I can walk to to satisfy my craving. They need the bellies on them, that’s where the real flavor is. If you get clam strips it is a usually made from a hard-shell clam, which also taste good, but are not the same. I get them every year on my birthday, preferably from my favorite seafood restaurant: The Village, in Essex Massachusetts.
This is my most recent shellfish obsession and unlike all the others, I didn’t grow up eating oysters. I first tried fried oysters when I was working in local restaurants as a fry-cook. From there it was oysters on the half shell and I’ve never looked back. There is just something about them that I find irresistible and as of now, I really don’t know how many I can knock back before getting full. My wallet always gives out before my appetite.
As a kid, I was more interested in playing with the lobsters dad brought home than eating them. But by the time I was ten I realized how good we have it here on the New England coast. As I got older my Sicilian genes kicked in and I began to enjoy the “richer” tasting parts of lobster like tomalley and roe. Although I love a good lobster pie, kicking back with some friends, beers and a 5-gallon bucked filled with boiled lobsters is a little slice of heaven.
Good thing I have had friends and family in the scallop business, otherwise, given my economic station, I doubt would have tried them more than a few times. My dad used to bring them home and shuck them right before frying them. I don’t get them all that often, but when the mood strikes, a big platter of fried scallops, or baked in a casserole with cracker crumbs hits the spot.
Shrimp in this context, is local wild shrimp, not farm-raised imports. Northern shrimp from the Gulf of Maine is my favorite but will not be available in 2017. These small pink shrimp are sweet as candy and were always a wintertime treat. I remember going to a party where there were several buckets of cooked shrimp throughout the house and we just gorged ourselves. These days, without a local shrimp fishery, I limit my shrimp intake and I don’t order it in restaurants unless I know it’s wild-caught.
Honorable Mention: King crab legs, Mussels, Octopus, Sea snails (babalucci), and Squid.
One of the things I like best when we are in Maine is the abundance of right out of the water shellfish. BTW, I’m with you when it comes to fried clams. I don’t do them at home but order a clam roll whenever I see it on a menu.
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