Rinsing seafood?

Are you supposed to rinse fresh seafood prior to cooking it? Last night I made crab cakes and got the Philips lump crab and didn't rinse it and it tasted fine. (I did drain the liquid) but I've always wondered if you were indeed supposed to rinse seafood and what purpose it served?

  • Posted by: skittle
  • June 19, 2011


Greenstuff June 20, 2011
And of course, I forgot your REAL question. There is no way that I'd rinse some nice Philips crab. Drain, yes. Rinse, absolutely not. Watery crab? What a waste!
Greenstuff June 20, 2011
I've been thinking about this one one and off this afternoon, as I'm finally making EmilyC's shrimp burgers. (Yay!) I do not as an overall rule rinse seafood, even the shrimp I just shelled, which were absolutely beautiful and fresh smelling. I do shell shrimp in the sink, and if I'd had any minor problem with deveining (I won't go into the biological details), I would have give the individual a little spritz. I would also give fish a rinse if I were scaling them and wanted to wash away the stray scales that were sticking to everything. Oysters used to have mud that I'd get rid of. And mussels be covered with barnacles, algae, and debris--they needed a little rinse as well. Not so much since the farms have taken over (and done a great job). So, bottom line--you don't HAVE to rinse, but go ahead if there's a reason it will make you feel better.
Merrill S. June 20, 2011
I definitely rinse shrimp if I'm shelling them, for the same reasons ChefJune mentions -- I do find that rinsing can help reduce that slightly ammonia-like odor that shrimp sometimes have after sitting in a bag, but if they're truly off, rinsing won't help. And drying is essential before cooking.
ChefJune June 20, 2011
Rinsing is not necessary, and if there is an off odor, rinsing won't wash it away.

I usually rinse shrimp after shelling and deveining to make sure any extraneous bits have been washed off. And I dry them before preparing to cook.

Always be sure to dry your meat or fish after you have washed them, so they will accept seasonings and cook properly. You can't sear wet anything.
skittle June 19, 2011
Thank you!
So if you are rinsing (aside from things in shells) the purpose is to get rid of the odor then?
Merrill S. June 19, 2011
I usually rinse shrimp (which can sometimes start to smell a little funky even if they're still good) and whole fish, and of course scrub the outside of clams and mussels, but I wouldn't rinse much else in the way of seafood -- you don't want to lose any of that great flavor! I definitely wouldn't rinse lump crabmeat.
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