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 listed 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 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 age of 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.
King crab legs are a given, but I just don’t eat them very often. Mussels really should be on this list and I probably eat them the most. Octopus, marinated in salad or grilled is oh so good. Sea snails (babalucci) can be an acquired taste but will always remind me of my dad. Squid, especially fried calamari is also one of my all-time favorites.