The seven capital questions (and their answers) about seafood

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Delicious fish curry served with rice, salad and papad,

It occupies a place of honor in the Christmas menus, but its consumption is surrounded by questions, from when to buy it at a better price until it is safe to suck the shrimp heads

Christmas is synonymous with shopping, meals, and spending. Tastes, company, table and tablecloth change, but there are some essentials that resist year after year: seafood and rising prices (some double digits).

Nothing suggests that this December will be different from the previous ones, unless price records are broken, as happened in Christmas 2018, according to the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU). To avoid surprises, it is best to know in advance what we are going to find.

The OCU Price Observatory makes three price records: the first, one month before Christmas; the second, after the bridge of the Constitution, and the last, in the days before Christmas Eve. The strongest increases occur in the second record (in 2018 they were around 20% for sea ​​bream, oysters and hake ) although there is still room for more discrete last-minute increases in general, but do not rule out final skirts, such as rises of more than 40% for some seafood (last year corresponded to barnacles ).

“It is important to process the seafood well, guaranteeing cleanliness and cooking it above 65ºC”

There is another option to save us a few euros, which is to buy frozen seafood, but usually, we prefer to spend something else investing in fresh.

Once the question of how much we are going to pay for seafood is resolved, other relevant questions also arise.

How to prepare it, cooked or grilled?

“From the point of view of food safety, the recommendation will always be to consume shellfish (crustaceans and mollusks) cooked, regardless of whether it is cooked or the plate, to reduce the microbial load, the larvae in the case of that they have them, thus reducing food poisoning, ” explains Alba Santaliestra, president of the scientific committee of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to Alimente.

“It is important to properly process the seafood, ensuring its correct cleaning and cooking it above 65 ° C,” he adds.

Can seafood be eaten raw?

If, in spite of the recommendation, we decided to take raw seafood, freezing it beforehand is the most advisable in the domestic sphere, but European and Spanish legislation establishes that “the establishments that serve collectivities of fishery products to be consumed raw, must obligatorily freeze them at -20ºC for 24 hours ”.

Is crude oil suitable for all audiences?

Santaliestra, who also chairs the Professional Association of Dietitians-Nutritionists of Aragon, makes an important warning: “It is important to keep in mind that there are risk groups for which the consumption of raw seafood will never be recommended, according to the American Food organization and Drug Administration (FDA), which are pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with immune system problems or who have decreased heartburn. ”

Does the cooking technique change the taste?

Yes. When cooking them on the grill, some kind of Maillard reaction can occur (they occur between proteins and sugars when heating food), which gives the characteristic roasted flavor. The key is in the temperature, which when it exceeds 100 ° C favors the appearance of these Maillard reactions.

Does everyone have the same nutritional composition?

“It is very similar, and highlights its low-fat content, its high contribution of proteins of high biological value, vitamins of group B, A, and E, and minerals such as iodine, sodium, potassium, and magnesium,” says the nutritionist. However, crustaceans have a higher fat content than mollusks, but the latter have more dietary cholesterol.

Seafood contains a lot of purines, so people with high uric acid have to eat them in moderation. Even so, the expert clarifies, “seafood can be included for all people in a varied and balanced diet and without exceeding its consumption”.

Can you suck the shrimp heads?

Apart from being an act that is not very gratifying for the senses, it is not recommended for several reasons. Alba Santaliestra details that “in crustaceans, the highest concentration of cholesterol is in the head, so it is recommended not to suck that of prawns, shrimp and the like.

” Another argument against the suckers is to avoid absorbing the preservatives that are thrown into the shellfish after capture (bisulfites, to prevent blackening of the tail, legs and the rest of the body that appears a few minutes after the death of the animal).
Who should be careful with their consumption?

Allergy sufferers should avoid it because they can suffer a very serious reaction, and those who suffer from migraines should know that due to their high content of histamine, tyramine, and phenylethylamine they can cause a headache.

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