How to cook seafood

How to cook seafood

Sarah Swain demonstrates how to prepare tasty prawns, mussels and squid.


  1. Scrub mussels in cold water using a stiff kitchen brush, scraping off barnacles and pulling off beards.
  2. Cover the bottom of a large pan or casserole with a mix of white wine and chicken, vegetable or fish stock. Add chopped garlic, fresh parsley and coriander, and a few slices of lemon. Bring the liquid to the boil. Add cleaned mussels. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes on a high heat.
  3. Transfer the opened mussels with a slotted spon to a serving dish. Discard any closed mussels. Add fresh coriander or parsley and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Shellfish tips

Live shellfish die if:

  • stored at a temperature which is too high or too low
  • stored in the fridge for more than five hours
  • covered with fresh water for too long


  1. Pull off the head, then peel off the shell and legs with your fingers. Save heads and shells for use in fish stocks.
  2. Run a knife lightly along the back of the prawn to expose the dark intestinal vein. Remove the vein with the tip of the knife or your fingers. Rinse prawn under cold running water and pat dry before using.


  1. Lay squid flat on a board. Insert a long, thin knife in the opening and neatly cut along one side.
  2. Open squid out flat and scrape away any leftover membrane.
  3. Use the tip of the knife to lightly score the flesh in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through squid completely.
  4. Cut scored squid in strips ready to cook.


  • Place seafood in the fridge quickly after buying to keep it as fresh as possible, or keep it cooled in a chilly bin.
  • Store fresh seafood such as squid and prawns in a sealed container in the fridge on the bottom shelf.
  • Live shellfish must be stored between 2-4°C under a cover of melting ice. It is important not to let the ice make direct contact with the shellfish (you will kill them with cold) so use the following method:–  place shellfish in a colander–  cover shellfish with a towel, then cover with ice–  keep in a cool place but not the fridge.

Recipe idea

Squid and prawns with garlic, lemon and parsley

Author: Sarah Swain

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Dec 2009

2018-03-12 10:57:50

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