I have to admit, I never realized that scallops were bivalves. They’re never sold in their shells, so I never thought about it. Have you? Their shells are the ones that look like a fan, like the Shell Gas logo. Granted, as a Jewish girl growing up in a kosher home, I wasn’t exactly an expert, but how many of you really knew? C’mon, admit it, you didn’t know either!

These babies cook in minutes. The easiest way is to put some butter or oil in a pan and make it smoking hot. Then pan sear the scallops for between 1 ½ and 3 minutes a side, depending on the size of the scallop. Make sure they’re just underdone, as they continue to cook. Another tip from May, NEVER buy wet-packed scallops. They have chemical additives. Get the dry packed ones, and always pat your scallops dry before cooking to make sure they brown well.


Squid, calamari, octopus and cuttlefish are included in this group. They have no bones.

Squid can be sliced thin to sauté or to use in soups and pasta. Calamari is just small squid. You can take them, cut them in half and stuff the heads after cutting them from the tentacles. Personally, I don’t think I could do this. Even writing about it seems a little intense for my taste. I like them fried with a nice spicy tomato-based dip! Cuttlefish are huge squid with really big heads and shorter tentacles. The Italians like to braise these so the meat is nice and soft. Personally, I think these are what sunk all those ships in the 1600’s. After all, the vessels were really little back then. Octopi (yes, this is the plural!) tentacles tend to be tough, so these are best sliced thin and sautéed or grilled. 

There’s a lot to learn about shellfish and we haven’t even gotten to the crustaceans, yet! Those are my personal favorites. I’ll save them for part two. Here’s a wonderful mussel recipe from this evening’s lesson. It’s a little ambitious, but worth every bite!

Thai Green Curry with Mussels

Serves 4-6

Rice Ingredients:
1C Jasmine rice
1 ½ C water
Pinch of salt

Rinse the rice. Bring water with salt to a boil. Add rice, stir once and cover. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Set aside.

2 T peanut oil
1 ½ t. Thai green curry
2 green onions, sliced
2” piece of ginger, grated
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2: slices on the bias
4 whole kaffir lime leaves (8 leaves total), sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can coconut milk, shaken
Juice from 1 lime
2 lbs mussels
2 T Cilantro, minced
2 T Thai basil, sliced (use Italian if you can’t find Thai)

Heat oil in a 6-quart stockpot on medium heat. Combine curry, green onions, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and lime leaves in the stockpot and sauté for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and lime juice. Bring liquid to a boil, add mussels and cover tightly. Steam mussels until cooked through (5-7 minutes). Add cilantro and basil and toss mussels in the steaming liquid. Serve in a large bowl with rice on the side.