Nothing ruins a shellfish meal like a mouthful of sand. Keep the sand on the beach where it belongs and eat only the freshest shellfish by taking some pointers from Executive Chef Dusmane Tandia Abdoulaye of Mastro’s Steakhouse New York City on how to buy, prepare, and plate your favorite kind of shellfish.

The iconic restaurant celebrated by diners and critics alike is renowned for indulgent, signature dishes such as their two-foot-tall seafood tower, lobster mashed potatoes, and melt-in-your-mouth Signature Warm Butter Cake. Mastro’s offers a first-class dining experience with the highly attentive, genuine service and hospitality that guests have come to expect. The menu, traditionally consistent across all of Mastro’s Steakhouse locations, features only the highest quality, freshest seafood and USDA Prime steaks, complemented with a wide selection of sharable appetizers, family-style side dishes and house-made desserts. There is also a Mastro’s Steakhouse in Washington D.C., where Rob Klink is the executive chef.

Tips for Buying the Freshest Shellfish

First you need to look for a reliable fishmonger. It’s important to ask around get some suggestions from friends or from your favorite Seafood restaurant. The store should be busy.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like:

  • When did you receive the shellfish?
  • What is the origin of the shellfish?
  • Ask if you can smell it
  • Ask if you can see the shellfish tags. They will show the date harvested and the harvest location.

How Do You Know You’re Buying the Best Shellfish?

Clams, Oysters, Mussels

  • The shells should be clean and free of dirt and mud. Should be nice and clean. Feel them if they have a film or are slimy do not purchase.
  • They should be covered in ice in the display case.
  • The shells should be closed. You may see that the shells are sometimes slightly open, just tap the shell and it should close back up. If they don’t, discard.
  • They should smell fresh like the ocean.


  • The Shrimp should smell of the sea and the flesh should look firm.
  • Black spots are a sign of age.
  • Buy them with the shell on. They tend to have been handled less.
  • They should feel clean and not have a film.
  • Black Tiger Shrimp are a great choice. When they are cooked they have a nice crunch when you bite them.

Crab Legs (Alaskan Red)

  • The Crab legs should smell fresh like the ocean.
  • They should feel clean and not slimy.
  • If buying the Red King the shell should be bright red.
  • The leg should be whole and not cut in half.

Lobster (live)

  • Fresh lobster should come from a saltwater tank.
  • They should be alive and frisky.
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