Scallops, prawns, crayfish, mussels, oysters, line fish: who doesn't love eating seafood when it has been prepared beautifully? It might be expensive to eat in top seafood restaurants, but if you live the near the ocean, there is no excuse for not preparing your own seafood dishes. You don't even need recipes. Here are some tips:

Get it Fresh

Most people in the world are forced to eat frozen seafood or (even worse) seafood that has been smoked, canned or processed almost out of recognition. If you are fortunate – especially if you live near an ocean harbour – you should make the effort to buy your seafood fresh off the boat, preferably early in the morning when the boats return.

Clean Well

Your fresh seafood needs gutting and cleaning. Maybe the fishermen on the harbour will be able to help you by gutting the fish, but you will almost certainly have to clean your mussels, prawns and scallops. Get rid of sand, which is the main culprit of unpleasantness in seafood. Remember that with prawns you need to remove the alimentary tract – the so-called black vein down the back of the prawn.

Correct Tools

You need a sharp chef's knife, an oyster knife if you are shucking oysters, a big cast iron pot for those mussels or seafood stews and soups, and a large pan. Tip: Tin foil can be your best friend when baking a fillet of sea fish in the oven.

Keep It Natural

Once you have your fresh seafood, cook it as soon as possible and as naturally as possible. For instance, if you have plucked fresh mussels off the rocks, simply cook them in sea water. Most seafood needs minimal attention prior to cooking – perhaps a light coating of oil, some salt or a sprig of herbs. Otherwise all it needs is to be cooked over a fire, grill or in the oven.

Don't Cook for Too Long

Most home cooks (and even professional chefs) make the mistake of cooking seafood for too long. Inevitably this makes the seafood tough and it also takes away the delicate flavours. Tip: cook the seafood until the aroma is delicious. That's a sure sign that the seafood has been cooked to perfection.

Accompaniments to Seafood

Let the seafood speak for itself. Prepare light and delicate béchamel sauce, tartare or lemon butter sauce to accompany the seafood. Chunky bread for soaking up the juices and light salads will bring out the best in your fresh seafood dishes.