South African shellfish

22 Jul Fish on Florida’s Guide to South African Shellfish

South African shellfish

There’s nothing better than succulent seafood, fresh from the ocean! Here in South Africa, we’re blessed with an abundance of different shellfish, and Fish on Florida sources the very best for our delectable shellfish dishes. To make it easier to choose your next meal with us, read our quick guide to South African shellfish …

What’s the difference between fish and shellfish?

While seafood is any food from the sea, shellfish is all that seafood which has a hard shell. There are two categories of shellfish – molluscs and crustaceans. Molluscs – clams, oysters, abalone (In South Africa, often called by its Afrikaans name, perlemoen), mussels, scallops, octopus, and squid – are typically characterised by a hinged two-part shell. Crustaceans – crayfish, lobster, prawns, langoustine, crab, and shrimps – have jointed legs, a hard shell and no backbone.


Oysters are harvested by hand, and are found in shallow intertidal and subtidal rocky reefs. Nutrient-dense, oysters are a great source of dietary zinc. When preparing oysters, inspect the shells for damage, and tap the shell – if it doesn’t close tightly, discard it! Healthy, fresh oyster meat is plump, and moist in appearance – best when served with lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce.


Typically found on exposed sandy beaches and harvested by hand, mussels are a fast-growing shellfish packed full of B-vitamins, magnesium, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids. They’re delish when cooked in white wine, garlic and butter (have you tried our Moules Mariniere?). Source fresh mussels from reputable suppliers only, and check them by rinsing and scrubbing under cold, running water. Discard any that are broken, or don’t close when lightly squeezed!


This South African shellfish is scrumptious in curries, seafood salads, seafood platters – especially when prepared with garlic, butter, lemon or peri-peri marinade. South African prawns are found in the deep warmer waters off our coast, and that of Mozambique. They’re an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s, are low in calories and – for all the banters out there – contain no carbohydrates! Fresh prawns should smell fresh, look moist, have their shells intact, and turn pink when cooked.


Calamari is Italian for squid, a type of mollusc that’s lost its hard outer shell. Packed with vitamins and minerals, calamari is a firm but slightly sweet meat. Grilled or deep-fried, it’s a favourite with seafood lovers. The general rule of thumb when buying any fresh seafood applies here, as well – it shouldn’t smell fishy.


Also known as crayfish, the West Coast rock lobster and deep-water rock lobster are found on both the east and west coast of South Africa. Crayfish is an extremely popular dish and, though it’s not yet red listed by SASSI, sustainable initiatives are needed to rebuild their populations. Crayfish are seasonal, and are available from November through to March. It’s best when prepared with sauteéd onions, mushrooms and cream. When boiling crayfish, the shell should turn red and the flesh white.

Permits for shellfish

The past few decades have seen populations of shellfish decline, due to increased demand. That’s why the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries controls how much shellfish can be harvested each season. Permits are needed from the relevant authorities for oysters, mussels, prawns, crayfish and squid. Abolone (perlemoen) is an endangered species – strict conditions apply to its harvesting.

Craving freshly prepared shellfish?

Book a table at Fish on Florida for dishes that smack of the sea!

No Comments

Post A Comment