Shellfish are edible fish that are either a shelled mollusc or crustacean. They are eaten in many different ways in various cuisines, depending on their flavour and the style of cooking.
As well as being tasty, shellfish are great for health. Consumed regularly as part of a healthy balanced diet, shellfish is low in fat and a good source of protein and healthy fats, as well as a good array of nutrients and vitamins.
Different shellfish have different health benefits so, to make the most of these, we should vary the types we eat. With so many available around our shores, there is plenty to choose from.
Commonly known as the brown crab, this robust edible crustation is large and red-brown in colour other than black tips on the end of its claws. They have a distinctive pie-crust edge and are easily identified.
Brown crabs are plentiful around the coastlines of Scotland and are found out under the sea to about 100m depth. They can also be found in rocky outcrops and deep holes.
Crabs have sweet, delicate white meat in their claws and rich, savoury brown meat in their bodies. The brown crab is popular as dressed crab and in dishes like mousses, soufflés and soups.
Lobsters are very familiar to everyone and are easily identified. They have a long body that ends with a wide tail fan and 2 large pincers, one markedly chunkier than the other - this is the crusher and the thinner pincer is the tearer. Lobsters claws are banded on the boats when removed from the creels.
Lobsters live in crevices and excavated hidey-holes amongst rocks beneath the low tide mark and out to depths of 60m.
Lobsters are famous worldwide for their incredible taste and are dark blue in colour turning bright orange-red when cooked.
Lobster meat is contained within the claws, abdomen and tail. Male lobsters have a denser, meatier flesh, whereas female lobsters have a subtle flavour and an orange roe that is often used to colour sauces. Lobster can be used in a pasta dishes, soups or is commonly served boiled or steamed in the shell.
This has many names but are commonly known as langoustines and around our coasts they live in sea lochs and open water, at depths ranging from a few metres to over 500m. They are the most commercially important crustacean in all of Europe.
They live in self-dug burrows in the seabed, hiding away during the daytime and appearing at night to feed. Although they can swim, they prefer to crawl along the seabed.
A long orange crustation with 3 pairs of claws - 2 small and 1 large and typically lobster-like.
Langoustines are considered a delicacy. The white fleshy meat in the tail and body is juicy, slightly sweet and lean.
The velvet swimming crab comes exactly as advertised. Their body is covered in short hairs that give a velvet appearance and are soft to the touch, just like velvet. Like all swimming crabs, their rear-most legs are flattened like paddles, helping them swim effectively. This medium sized crab has distinctive bright red eyes and they are speedy underwater making it a fierce, fast-moving crab!
They can be found across all coastlines of the UK and Ireland in areas where there is rocky and broken ground.
The shell is softer than a brown crab and can be blended to add flavour to soups and stewed shellfish dishes.
Shrimp are found in rockpools and shallow waters down to around 40m deep, normally hiding in crevices or under stones. They are scavengers and will eat anything they find. They have a translucent body with brownish-red tiger stripes along their length, and large eyes separated by a serrated rostrum. Its walking legs are banded with reddish-brown and bright yellow and it has very long brown antennae.
Shrimps are delicious and are full of flavours with a hint of semi-sweet and salty taste to them. This seafood is a versatile dish and can be grilled and covered in lemon butter, or even marinated in garlic.
Probably the Common crab in Britain, this is a medium-sized crab which is normally greenish in colour, and they are found amongst rocks and seaweed from mid shore down to beyond the low tide mark. The shore crab has pointed spines around the front of its face.
Green crab is mostly used as an ingredient in soups and sauces.