So I've been doing my version of paleo for a couple of months now, and have been adding stuff to my diet that I never ate before either because I didn't like it or thought it was unhealthy. I now really like steak, eggs, good bacon, etc. I'd like to add shellfish, but again I've always been grossed out by all forms -- I mean, they are invertebrates. However, at the beginning of September, I was grossed out by ground beef, and last night I made kick-ass burgers and loved every juicy bite.
Shellfish consumers: What's a good one to start with if you are a little mollusk- and/or crustacean-shy? Any of those little critters milder-flavored and/or less slimy than others? Any good recipes and/or prep tips?
ETA: by "shellfish" I really mean anything with a shell or an exoskeleton -- clams & mussels & their ilk, yes, but also shrimp, crabs, crawdads, etc. (Though crustaceans have the added gross-factor of looking like insects.)
I think the easiest shellfish are scallops seared in ghee an sprinkled with some fresh parsley or tarragon. Sweet and taste like the ocean. Get them fresh not frozen if you don't want a fishy taste.
I grew up in an English fishing community and little cockles, winkles and mussels cooked in vinegar and served on tiny china plates were real treats.
Crustaceans are delicious - prawns (shrimp) and crab are affordable (at least here in the UK). Lobster is not the cheapest but has a nice, meaty texture, has a wonderful affinity with melted butter and is less fiddly to eat than smaller crustaceans. They all taste a little bit sweet. Fresh is best, but they are all good frozen.
Molluscs really are best freshly caught - I wouldn't bother with them unless you are sure they are very fresh. Frozen or tinned just don't work, to my mind, as the textures change too much. Oysters might not be a good place for a beginner to start but to my mind they taste of the sea and are heavenly. Mussels have quite a meaty taste and go well with cream, shallots and parsley (with a drop of cider when we are in Normandy).
I would go in this order, to get you used to the tastes and the fact that these are progressively less recognizable as animals:
I'm not really a fan of cooked oysters except in oyster stew, but at this point you may want to try them.
Then finally you can go for the really exotic stuff, like sea urchin.
I grew up with an intense aversion to shellfish, but was won over by shrimp and crab in my early twenties. I love love love shrimp battered with egg yolk, dipped in coconut flour and spices, then crisped in ghee. I eat shellfish I find unpleasant too though like oysters, but swallow them down with wine.
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