Of all the types of seafood that mankind has learned to enjoy in this world, bivalves admittedly require the most annoying amount of work. De-bearding mussels is mad obnoxious and once you do it even once, you realize why you pay a premium to have a fishmonger do it for you. (Or just cut to the chase and eat them at a seafood restaurant who has already done all the work for you.) And let’s not even start on the actual shucking of anything you intend to consume raw. The tediousness and risk of stabbing yourself in the palm starts to outweigh the payoff of the delicious, briny oyster meat inside.
But friends, all that effort is worth it. Why? Because fresh mussels, clams, scallops, and oysters are truly delicious, and, honestly, some of the fastest and most fool-proof types of seafood you can cook. (It is really hard to fuck up steamed clams, and you can do it in 20 minutes.) So roll up your sleeves, watch a few YouTube tutorials on the safest ways to shuck an oyster if you’re not a pro, and dive into some of these recipes for our favorite ways to prepare those finicky but tasty bivalves.
In the regional pizza wars, Frank Pepe’s of New Haven might definitely be winning the white clam pizza battle, and is arguably one of the best uses of seafood on pizza we’ve ever seen.
These baked clams from our pal Frank Pinello make us feel like we’re feasting at an Atlantic City steakhouse on the boardwalk, waiting for our lucky slot machine to free up. (In a good way! Love you, Frank.)
Whatever beers you're using to steam these clams would be the perfect beverage pairing for enjoying these bad boys, so even though the recipe calls for two, you should probably get a third for yourself.
Bottarga, that delightful salty, cured sack of mullet roe, gets shaved generously over the top of this pasta like Parmesan and we are here for it.
A true classic. Serve this up over pasta with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you’ve got one stunner of a dinner party entrée.
You could get rid of all of the chicken and shrimp in this paella from Boston chef Jamie Bissonnette and go all out with the clams and mussels instead.
Don’t be afraid to let your cherry tomatoes get nice and blistered so they burst open and create the easiest and purest tomato sauce you’ve ever made.
If you’re a fan of crab cakes, you’ll love these pan-fried mussel fritters. Serve them up with just a few lemon wedges for squeezing over top.
Still a little mystified by the mussel’s beard? Our friend Julia Ziegler-Haynes explains: “Mussels have a hipster "beard," also known as byssal threads. This might be sexy, but no one wants to eat a beard. This thing is made of many fibers which emerge from the mussel's shell. You'll want to pull these off right before you're ready to cook them; once the beards are off, they don't live for very long.”
If you’ve never cooked clams or mussels at home by yourself, this is a great place to start. Super straightforward, and the whole thing finishes in just 10 minutes. Be sure to have some rustic bread on hand to grill up and soak up the excess cooking liquid.
If you’re not familiar with n’duja, the spreadable spicy Italian cured meat, this is the perfect introduction, because spicy, salty Italian meats go perfectly with shellfish.
You can watch our good friend Matty Matheson whip up this super simple dish, and maybe heed his advice to pick the mussels by hand for your guests before serving it up at the table. It’s just good hospitality.
Celebrated Mexican chef Diego Hernández Baquedano prefers his oysters on the smoky side, with some crispy bacon and crumbles of tangy ranchero cheese.
If you can’t get your hands on ramps, you can use some roasted garlic and chives to top these smoky lil guys for a swanky as hell appetizer.
This dish has all the cheesy, satisfying qualities of a potato gratin but adds coastal New England flavors with the biggest East Coast oysters you can get your hands on.
You gotta shuck your oysters carefully for this recipe so you can save all the good “liquor,” or the liquid that’s inside the shell with the meat, for making a super tasty sauce that you’ll want to sop every bit of up with a slice of bread.
Leave your sweet scallop raw and pile it on top of a crunchy corn tostada for an excellent balance of textures.
Those who believe that seafood and cheese don’t belong on the same plate have never had scallop gratin and thusly have never lived. Don’t deprive yourself!
Oysters and clams hold up well with a cornmeal coating while frying, but scallops are even better in a beer batter like this one. Serve up with plenty of lemon wedges and tartare sauce.
A good ceviche should have plenty of spice and citrusy acid, but all those in-your-face flavors need some sweet, juicy scallops and creamy avocado to balance everything out.
Sweet English peas and crispy strips of prosciutto are the only accompaniments well-seared scallops ever need.
Get the biggest, juiciest bay scallops you can find so you can get nice, clean cross-hatch char lines on them when grilling them up like our masterful culinary director Fardieh Sadeghin does.