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Health, Sports & Psychology

Ever Wondered About... Seafood?

Updated Wednesday, 27th April 2005

The science and history of seafood

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It is best to cook mussels in a broad shallow pan so that they can cook in a single layer. This avoids toughening the mussels and allows you to remove the ones that open early to avoid them overcooking.

The word mussel comes from the Indo-European word mus which means mouse and muscle. Their dark oblong shapes must have prompted the comparison.

Chitin from crustacean shells is used to make 'chitosan' which is used:
• in moisturiser and hair-care products
• for wound dressings
• to deliver medication at a controlled rate
• to coat wheat seeds to protect them from bacteria and fungi and hence to increase crop yields

Scallops are the only bivalve that can swim.

The scallop shell is the badge of St. James, who is the patron saint of one of the great pilgrimages: to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

Squids are molluscs turned inside out and are mobile, streamlined carnivores with large eyes and arms. Their internal support consists of remnants of a shell.

By deep frying squid in batter, you are effectively heating the squid gently and evenly from all directions. The batter, once it’s cooked in hot oil, acts as a layer of insulation and slows subsequent heating.

Calamari is squid served as a meal.

The Romans were the first to exploit shellfish in Great Britain. They had a particular love for oysters.

The UK exported nearly 100,000 tonnes of shellfish in 2004, valued at over £310 million

Spain is the top export destination for shellfish from the UK (followed by France and Italy) receiving around one third of the total shellfish exports. The UK also exports to India and the Seychelles.

Because of the oils and vitamins found in fish and shellfish, seafood is an important part of a healthy diet. It is a good source of protein, contain various minerals and B vitamins.

Up to 5 times as much protein has to be fed to farmed tiger prawns than they produce.

An adult oyster can filter as much as 60 gallons of water per day.

Not all oysters taste the same! The size, shape, flavour and food value of oysters are severely affected by their habitat.

In November 1902, the British oyster trade was dealt a severe blow with lasting effects. In Southampton and Winchester, two mayoral banquets were held at which oysters were served. A large number of the guests were poisoned and four died after the Winchester Banquet. It is claimed that the oyster industry lost 75% of its trade after this event.

Oysters are one of the most nutritionally well balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids.

Oysters are long valued as an aphrodisiac and a hangover cure, but they are now considered unhealthy as they have high levels of cholesterol.

During Dickensian times (in the 1800s), oysters were cheap and plentiful, and were regarded as food for the poor.

Outbreaks of typhoid in Victorian times started from contaminated oysters.






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