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Nature, Varieties & Use of Shell Fish

SHELL FISH are acquatic animals that are entirely or partly encased in shells. They include mollusks, or bivalves, such as oysters, clams, and scallops, and crustaceans, such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimp.

The popularity of the edible varieties of mollusks and crustaceans depends largely on whether they can be easily obtained and whether they are pleasing to the local or individual taste. As they are found in salt rivers, bays, and other shallow salt-water sources, their greatest use is among people living near the seashore, but they are much favored where they can be procured in edible condition.

Lobsters and crabs are usually more expensive than oysters and clams; consequently, they are used more often to provide a delicacy or to supply something more or less uncommon for a special meal.

Be careful when purchasing shell fish. For instance, crabs and lobsters should be purchased alive. They are usually shipped on ice so that they will remain in this condition for some time, and they are displayed on ice in the markets for the same reason. Such shell fish should be kept alive until they are plunged into boiling water to cook.

Oysters and clams bought in the shell must also be alive when purchased. A tightly closed shell indicates that they are alive, whereas a slightly open shell proves that they are dead. If these two varieties are bought out of the shells, the fish themselves should not be accompanied by a great quantity of liquid. Considerable liquid is an indication that the oysters or clams have been adulterated by the addition of water. Formerly it was the custom to keep oysters in fresh water, as the water they absorb bloats or fattens them. This practice, however, is not popular any more.

There is considerable danger, however, in using any varieties that are not perfectly fresh or freshly cooked. In the case of mollusks, or bivalves, much harm has resulted from the use of those which have been grown or bred in unsanitary surroundings. Because of these facts, it is very important that you take great care in selecting, storing and preparing shell fish.

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Did You Know?
There are many health benefits associated with regular consumption of seafood.
Many of these benefits have been linked to the long-chain, highly polyunsaturated omega-3

fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic
acid (DHA), which are found in seafood. Seafood is also a good source of protein.

Cooking does not appear to harm either the quality or quantity of beneficial omega-3 rich oils in seafood.
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