Geoffrey Zakarian Has A Pro Tip For Cooking Shellfish

Protein is often the most expensive part of a dish, whether you're searing a beef steak or grilling a piece of salmon. It's also often the part of a dish that's the toughest to rescue if you mess it up. While you can always add in a few pinches of this or that to help refresh a sauce that isn't working the way you want it to, it's tougher to revive a protein that has been overcooked to the point where it's chewy, rubbery, and just plain unpleasant to consume.

Depending on where you live, shellfish such as clams, oyster, lobster, and mussels can be particularly expensive. If you splurge on shellfish for a meal you're making at home, you want to ensure you're cooking it correctly (that is, once you've first double checked that the clams haven't gone bad — no one wants to risk the health consequences of spoiled seafood). Thankfully, there's an abundance of videos and recipes from the pros that can demonstrate exactly how to cook just about anything, including shellfish.

Fortunately for seafood lovers, chef and television personality Geoffrey Zakarian took to his Instagram page with a short video in which he made linguini with clams. And as he pulled together the easy dish, he gave a quick explanation about a common mistake many people make when preparing shellfish.

Zakarian's pro tip

In his Instagram video, Geoffrey Zakarian cooked a batch of baby clams for his pasta dish and flagged two important decisions he made in the cooking process. First of all, he recommended using a flat pan, rather than a pot, to cook smaller shellfish, such as clams. The choice of cooking vessel also lends itself to his primary pro tip for cooking shellfish — don't crowd them.

Zakarian spread the bowl of clams out in a single layer within his heated pan so that each clam was making contact with the pan. As he explained, if you just pile up a bunch of clams in a pot to steam, there's a good chance that they'll end up overcooking. Just because you theoretically could pile more into a pan doesn't mean you should — resist the urge if you want the shellfish to be cooked to perfection.

One of the most common ways to cook shellfish such as clams and mussels is to steam them. If that's the technique you're using, you should be able to tell they're done simply by keeping an eye on them — they'll open when the shellfish are ready, notes Great British Chefs. Even if you're using another cooking method, though, you may want to keep Zakarian's tip in mind. For example, Martha Stewart has a recipe for clams and oysters casino in which she recommends arranging shellfish in a single layer on a baking sheet and broiling them until they open.