Seafood is one of Ibiza’s culinary delights. However, eating it gracefully can be tricky. It requires more than a simple fork and knife approach, as anyone who ever confronted a crab or whole fish can vouch. Not only that, it often appears in festive situations where you’d like to appear cool and elegant, not splattered in broth. So, for the seafood lovers and would-be enjoyers, here’s a guide to eating well without staining your shirt!
To eat whole crab, you need special equipment and plenty of patience. Start by twisting the legs off. Next pull the bony plate from the bottom of the crab next, then hook a thumb in each side of the shell and pull it open. After removing the gooey internal organs, split the shell in half to get to the meat between the cartilage “ribs” at either side. A seafood pick is a great help here! To eat the legs, crack them open at the joints and pull the meat free. Finally, use a nutcracker to break open the claws and conclude your feast.
Peeling prawns is simpler, and just requires a sharp knife for deveining. First, twist off the head. Then turn over the prawn and pull the shell open along the belly, working from head to tail. Peel off the shell and discard. The dark “vein” along the back is actually the prawn’s intestine. If it is dark, that’s waste. It probably won’t hurt you but is not pleasant to eat. Use the tip of a sharp knife to score alongside the vein, then lift it out and discard.
The first rule of eating oyster is, let someone else open it. Oysters have to be opened with a large, sharp knife and shuckers wear chain-mail gloves for a reason. Once you have the oyster on a half shell, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice or drop of hot sauce (tabasco is traditional) before taking a sip of the brine. This prepares your palate for the main event and, contrary to what you might have heard, you are not supposed to swallow oysters whole. Chew gently to fully appreciate the flavour.
Smaller, softer, and easier to handle, mussels are a good starting point for your seafood adventures. You can choose to either extract the meat with a small fork, dip it in the broth then eat; or you can quietly suck the flesh and juice straight from the shell. Both are appropriate. Use bread to soak up the extra broth.
Don’t be intimidated by whole fish; they are simple to eat once you get the hang of it, and cooking on the bone enhances the flavour. To begin, cut along the spine, which is midway between the top of the back and the bottom of the belly. Use your knife and a fork or spoon to gently remove the fillet from the spine side, then the belly side. Loose the tail and lift the spine and ribs free, remove them along with the head. This leaves you with the bottom-side fillets ready to eat. Be sure to check for and remove smaller bones that may get left behind.
What’s your favourite way to eat seafood? Share in the comments!