Guidelines for cooking shellfish

Shellfish-shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters or lobster–becomes tough and dry when overcooked. To cook raw shellfish, shucked or in the shell, follow these basic guidelines.

  • Raw Shrimp – turn pink and firm. Depending on the size, it takes from 3 to 5 minutes to boil or steam 1 pound of medium size shrimp in the shell.
  • Shucked Shellfish – (clams, mussels and oysters without shells), become plump and opaque when cooked thoroughly and the edges of the oysters start to curl. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests: boiling shucked oysters for 3 minutes, frying them in oil at 375° F for 10 minutes, and baking them for 10 minutes at 450° F.
  • Clams, Mussels and Oysters – in the shell will open when cooked. The FDA suggests steaming oysters for 4 to 9 minutes or boiling them for 3 to 5 minutes after they open.
  • Scallops – turn milky white or opaque and firm. Depending on size, scallops take 3 to 4 minutes to cook thoroughly.
  • Boiled Lobster – turns bright red. Allow 5 to 6 minutes per starting to time the lobster when the water comes back to a full boil.


Source: National Fisheries Institute

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