Stayin’ Alive

What not to do with lobsters. (Photo credit: Vivian Chan)

The other night, we decided to go big and brought home two live lobsters and fresh manila clams. Since we’re a household of die-hard seafood lovers, what could possibly be better than picking up fresh, live seafood for dinner? Our challenge, of course, was to keep it all alive until it was time to cook.

Intuition told us that lobsters and clams are ocean dwellers, so naturally, the best tactic would be to immerse them in water for safe-keeping, right? Wrong. Regardless of whether the water is fresh or salted, it’s a bad idea to fully immerse shellfish in water for storage. Within probably 15-20 minutes, the two previously very energetic lobsters were still.

Luckily, the clams could still be saved, and we had discovered the lobsters’ premature deaths quickly enough that our dinner could also still be salvaged. (We immediately brought about an inch of gently salted water to boil and steamed the two lobsters in covered pots right away.)

In learning from our near disaster, we discovered that the best way to keep shellfish alive is to wrap them in a damp cloth (or newspaper) and to place them in the fridge. It’s that simple. We also did this immediately with the clams, upon finding the poor, dead lobsters, and in the end, are happy to report that the clams survived. In general, it’s important not to put live shellfish in sealed bags or containers of water, or they’ll suffocate. It’s also important to place them in the refrigerator to keep them cool. If their body temperatures heat up too much, they will die.

Crisis averted: stir-fried lobster. Delicious. (Photo credit: Vivian Chan)

In the end, our story ended well. We still had a beautiful shellfish dinner. The lobsters were further stir-fried in ginger and green onion in a more traditional Chinese-style preparation. Both were delicious.

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