If you’re a seafood lover and aspire to prepare your very own seafood meals at home, it’s time you take a look at some essential tools for preparing and serving the same.
Did You Know?
According to a report published by the National Fisheries Institute, shrimp is the most common seafood type consumed across the United States.
The number of seafood lovers is increasing rapidly across the globe. Its versatility and nutritious properties have helped it become a favorite in many households. While cooking and serving chicken, turkey, lamb, etc., is considerably simpler, seafood has a lot going on in terms of technique, even though it takes lesser time to cook. Seafood comprises scores of different creatures, including a plethora of fish, shellfish, squids, octopus, etc.
Each sea creature comes with its own cooking challenges. While shrimp can be easily peeled off their shells, crabs and lobsters are cooked along with the shells, and then cracked open. As far as fish is concerned, it’s scaled and skinned (some fish) before it can be prepared. As you can see, seafood requires quite a bit of preparation work, which calls for a set of specialized equipment. Let’s take a look at the different tools required.
Must-have Seafood Cooking and Serving Tools
For Oysters …
Oysters are delicate creatures that come in hard, sharp-edged, difficult-to-crack shells. They can be eaten fresh or steamed, roasted, grilled, or even deep-fried, according to one’s cooking preference. Since oyster meat is very delicate, oysters are mostly cooked for just a few minutes, and are generally served with some dipping sauce.
However, before getting to the succulent meat and delicious oyster liquid, we need to carefully shuck them. For this, a few tools are required. Let’s take a look at them.
Before shucking the oysters, their shells need to be scrubbed clean. Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove any kind of dirt. Then, wash them clean under running tap water.
Oysters shells must be shucked with an oyster knife. A typical oyster knife consists of a short blade and sturdy, short handle. With this knife, you will be able to pop the hinge, separate the shells, and free your oyster from the shell. However, care must be taken not to spill too much of the oyster fluid, that is present inside the enclosed shells. There are various kinds of oyster knives available in the market today, with different kinds of handles to suit personal preference.
It’s important to hold the oyster in a dishtowel before you shuck it. This is because oyster shells are very sharp, thus, calling for protective gear. Moreover, you can also use thick gloves to protect your hands.
While many prefer to slurp raw oyster meat and liquid straight from the shell, others prefer to cook it and then eat it using a fork. You can purchase special seafood forks, or even use the basic forks we have at home.
Bed of Ice
To keep the oysters fresh until they’re consumed, place them over a bed of crushed ice. This applies to raw oysters.
For Crabs …
Crabs are crustaceans with hard outer shells and inner soft, sweet, luscious meat. They can be steamed, poached, stewed, grilled, or even deep-fried (soft-shelled crabs). The shelled meat is also used to prepare crab cakes, salads, etc. While crabs are low in calories and healthy additions to our daily diet, eating them can get difficult.
You need certain tools to cook and crack them. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Crabs are steamed in crab steamers, which are huge pots with wire racks in them. Water is poured into the steamer, and the crabs are placed onto a wire rack, thereby, enabling them to cook in the steam. Crab steamers are available in different sizes, so choose one depending on the amount of crab you’ll be generally cooking.
Tongs are used to remove steaming hot crabs from the crab steamer. They are also used to handle live crabs. There are various kinds of crab tongs available in the market, so choose one according to your preference.
You need a crab cracker or wooden mallet to crack the claws, and reach the delicious meat inside the cooked claws. However, avoid using wooden mallets because they crush the claws into lots of tiny pieces, causing you to waste time picking them out of the meat. It’s better to crack the claws gently with a crab cracker. The serrated edges of a stainless steel crab cracker deliver better results. Crab zippers can also be used to crack them open.
Crab Picks and Bowl
Crab picks are forks used to access prime crab meat. Once the claws have been cracked open, these picks are used to scrape the meat out. Place an extra bowl on the table to collect all the shells.
Since crab-cracking is a messy affair, it’s wise to lay newspapers under the plate. This will prevent your tablecloth from getting soiled. Moreover, cleaning up becomes easier, because all you have to do is throw away the newspaper with the crab shells.
For Lobsters …
Lobster meat, like crab meat, is delicious and considered to be a seafood delicacy. However, eating it can seem intimidating to many, mainly because its meat is enclosed in a hard shell.
Using a certain set of tools, your lobster-eating experience can remain an enjoyable one. Here are some of them.
To get to the lobster meat in the claws, you need a pair of seafood scissors or seafood crackers. Since the crackers have a tendency to crack the shell into tiny bits at some places, it’s better to use scissors which leave the meat intact without unwanted shell particles. Wooden mallets are also available; however, they are not preferred. Seafood scissors can also be used to clip the elastics that hold the claws in place.
Seafood Picks and Bowl
Lobster picks are stainless steel picks with forked tips. These picks help scrape out even the tiniest bit of meat from the narrowest of lobster claws and crevices. Place a bowl on the table to collect the shells.
Napkins and Newspapers
Again, since lobster consumption is an enjoyable, but messy affair, it’s advisable to tuck napkins and place newspapers under the plate to prevent your clothes and tablecloths from getting soiled.
For Fish …
The variety of edible fish available across the globe is simply phenomenal. Moreover, the number of different ways fish can be prepared is also astounding.
Nevertheless, irrespective of the kind of fish you purchase from the seafood section, you need a set of basic tools for their preparation. Take a look at the tools required.
Sharp Knife and Fish Board
A sharp knife is not only required to cut
off the fins, gills, skin, etc., but is also needed to cut lovely pieces of the fish. A chef’s knife can be used to fillet large fish. Besides the right kind of knives, you will also require a fish board, which can be used as a base to keep the fish on. Make sure you clean it well after use.
Fish Bone Pliers and Tweezers
Fish comprise scores of tiny pin bones, which can be conveniently picked out using a pair of fish bone pliers or tweezers. These are especially important to remove pin bones from fish fillets.
For fish types that come with scales, it’s important to get the scales off before cooking the fish. To remove the scales, use a fish scaler. However, you can also use a small knife to remove the scales. Just use the back of the knife to get the scales off. A simple butter knife can also be used as a scaler.
Gloves and Garbage Bowl
Cleaning fish is a smelly and messy affair, so it’s advisable to wear a pair of kitchen gloves before handling the fish. Moreover, there’s also the risk of getting pricked by the fish bones. So, wear thick gloves. Keep a garbage bowl or bag nearby to throw away fish waste. Don’t allow the waste to dry out on the workstation, because it can make cleaning up very difficult.
If you’re shallow frying your fish, you need a fish turner or spatula to flip it. You may also need tongs and skewers if you’re grilling the fish. Since fish is generally prepared in nonstick pans, make sure your spatula and turner are nonstick-friendly.
Other Seafood Preparation Tools
Sushi is gaining popularity all across the globe. To prepare this delicacy, you’ll need a few tools that aren’t usually found in a kitchen. A bamboo rolling mat is required to place the sushi ingredients and give it shape. Cling film, sushi rice bucket, bamboo rice paddles, sharp knives, chopsticks to eat the sushi, etc., are some of the other sushi tools required. If you’re preparing shrimp, you’ll need a shrimp peeler and deveiner.
If you’re serving caviar, purchase some fancy caviar spoons to go with the exotic feel. Moreover, if you’re preparing octopus, you need a rolling pin to tenderize it, a pair of tongs, a pair of kitchen scissors to chop it, knives, and chopping board.
Some of the tools can be substituted by simpler tools we have in our kitchens. So, if you think you have an alternative, go ahead. Or else purchase a kit to make things simpler. Moreover, if you know of somebody who is an avid lover of seafood, how about gifting him or her a set of such tools?