Food Friday: Shellfish

31 12 2010

Many Southerners consider eating shellfish a New Year’s tradition. So for today’s special edition of New Year’s Eve Food Friday, let’s talk about shellfish (sorry, our kosher friends)!

Shellfish are divided into two categories — crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans have longer bodys and jointed shells (crab, lobster, shrimp). Mollusks have shells, for the most part, but some mollusks, such as squid have tentacles. Abalone, for instance, only has a single shell, while bivalves, like the clam or oyster, has two shells joined by a muscle.

Of course when most of us think shellfish, we in the South (especially along the coasts), think of oysters, or maybe crab or shrimp. And while there are many great recipes for oysters out there, my favorite shellfish is the mussel. We love making a big bowl of mussels as an appetizer, or even a light meal. Here’s our favorite recipe!

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups mussels
  • olive oil
  • chopped garlic
  • basil
  • lemons


  1. Soak mussels in cold water for about 10 minutes.
  2. While soaking, make up a lemon butter sauce by melting butter over low heat. Let cool until solids sink to the bottom, then skim the clear butter from the top and saute 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion and some minced garlic. Stir in 1/3 cup lemon juice and just a splash of white wine if you wish. Season with salt and pepper. Then simmer for 2 or 3 minutes to reduce down. Remove from heat and stir in a couple tablespoons cold butter until it’s melted to smooth. Serve this over the cooked mussels once remaining steps are completed.
  3. Once your mussesls have soaked, scrub with brush and remove beard with knife. Rinse again to clean.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet and add the mussels. Cover and cook until the shells begin to open (should only take a couple of minutes).
  5. Add a couple tablespoons of chopped yellow onion and garlic. Toss and cover. Cook for a minute more.
  6. Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped basil, half a lemon squeezed and 1/4 cup butter for sauce. Cook for another minute or less.
  7. Discard any mussels that did not open and serve in a large bowl with lemon butter sauce.

And check our our suggested recipes from years past for Lentil Soup or Vegetarian Gumbo.




2 responses

31 12 2010

I swear I eat shellfish so much I’m afraid I’ll develop a food allergy. It’s so hard to stay away from it, especially shrimp in New Orleans.

31 12 2010
Suwannee Refugee

I thought black-eyed peas were the Southern tradition.

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