Seafood – what is it and how to prepare it?

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Seafood, or how it is called in Italy – frutti di mare, is a specialty of Italian and French cuisine. Those marine creatures just recently became more popular in Poland, just few years ago they were still associated with exclusiveness and luxury. Now they are easily available in our stores and restaurants. They have many health benefits and micro nutrients, but the most important conditions is that they come from clean waters, so that they don’t contain any harmful compounds. If you are not sure about the origin of the seafood, it is better to eat them with reasonableness.

There are plenty of benefits coming from consuming seafood, and usually they outweigh the risk of the harmful effects that may occur. What is more, usually the heat treating like boiling, frying or baking significantly reduces the amount of potential substances. Seafood are not recommended for young children, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers. In other cases, they are recommended for almost everyone.

They are valuable source of easily absorbable protein. Most of them contain as much of it as meat, with less fat and cholesterol at the same time. They are low in calories, so they can be eaten by people, who need to watch their weight or by people with heart problems. They also contain valuable Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins from the B group (such as PP, B12, B1 and B2). All of the seafood are great sources of iodine, that are necessary for thyroid hormone production. They provide with selenium (for proper functioning of cells and cancer prevention), fluorine (good for bones and teeth) as well as iron, magnesium and zinc. Summing up, seafood is great for the functioning of the entire organism and eating it (in reasonable quantities ) can bring many amazing health benefits.

What are the most popular types of seafood and how to prepare them?

1. Oysters

The meat of oysters has creamy-grey color, it is juicy and has very characteristic sea smell. They are usually sold fresh – alive in closed shells, or open and left in the half of the shell (this kind is much more difficult to get in Poland). They can be eaten raw or, after removing it from the shell, they can be roasted, boiled or fried. They taste well with lemon juice or spicy salsa. They are very rich in sodium, zinc and potassium.

2. Crabs

The meat of a crab is very delicate, white in claws and darker in the body. Entire crabs are rarely available in Polish stores, and if they are they are frozen. Alive crabs are imported to Poland sporadically and in most cases only for restaurants. The crab’s meat can be used as an ingredient for salads, pastes or soufflés. They will be also perfect as a main course. Crabs are full of high-value protein, B-vitamins, zinc and vitamin C.

3. Mussels

Mussels have smooth, thin shells brown or very dark purple in color. Their meat is white and it has delicate, sweet taste. In stores you can find many different kinds of mussels – canned, frozen or fresh, in their shells or peeled. As it comes to preparing them, they can be steamed, braised, roasted or grilled. They go perfectly well with white wine.

4. Octopus

Octopus’s meat is very springy with characteristic sea smell. In store you can usually find frozen, already cleaned octopuses or larger ones cut into pieces. They are also often sold in seafood mixes. They are perfect ingredient of salads, soups or pasta dishes. Boiled and sliced tentacles are also used for sushi.

5. Shrimps

The most popular seafood of all. The best-selling and cheapest are grey shrimps, a little bit more expensive but better in taste are red and pink (prawns) ones. The part of a shrimp that is edible is the meat from the tail part. Shrimps that can be found in Polish stores are usually pre-boiled and frozen, they can be peeled or in the shell, entire or only the tails. They are also in the frutti di mare mixes. There are tens of different ways of serving shrimps – hot or cold, boiled, steamed, braised, roasted, grilled or fried. They are perfect as a soup ingredient as well as an additive for omelets, pancakes, salads, pastes or pastas. They go very well with garlic butter or hot spices like chilli.

Those are only few seafoods, there are some more, like scallops, squids, lobsters, snails or crawfish. They are very distinctive in taste and smell, so they have both lovers as well as haters. It is actually one way or another. Their health benefits are huge, but what is very important to keep in mind is to always eat high quality seafood from dependable source. It may be more expensive, but in that you will be more sure that it won’t contain harmful substances and that it will be fresh and delicious.