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A seafood pick is an eating utensil which allows consumers to extract meat from shelled seafood and to move seafood around on their plates without having to get their hands dirty. Both crab and lobster are often brought to the table with picks, so that consumers can get all of the edible meat out of these crustaceans. These utensils can also be used as condiment forks.
A basic seafood pick resembles a small fork, often with two tines instead of one. The tines tend to be long and very pointed so that they can be forced into hard to reach areas of a crustacean to pull out meat. In some cases, the pick has a scoop on one end, which can also be used to extract edible flesh, or to pick up condiments. The design is also slender and very streamlined, so that the pick can fit into small places.
To use a seafood pick with crustaceans, consumers usually gently crack the shell with the assistance of shellfish crackers or a light tap with a small hammer. Loose pieces of shell are pulled away, and the pick is used to get into crannies of the shell which are not easily cracked. At the table, seafood picks help people to eat food without getting their hands dirty, and in the kitchen, they ensure that every usable scrap of flesh is removed.
When a seafood pick is used as a condiment fork, the narrow profile allows consumers to dip it into relish jars and other condiment containers. Since the tines are close together, they can hold a small amount of the desired condiment, usually just enough to dress the diner's food. In the case of a scooped pick, the scoop is usually used to retrieve condiments. As a general rule, the two functions of a seafood pick are not utilized simultaneously, for fear of contaminating condiments with seafood.
This utensil may also be labeled specifically as a lobster or crab fork. In addition to being used in shelled crustaceans, a seafood pick can also be used to pick out shellfish like clams and oysters. As a general rule, seafood picks are made from metal such as stainless steel, as the metal will not bend when the fork is manipulated in close quarters, although the metal tines may be attached to a wooden or plastic handle. These utensils can usually be run through the dishwasher, unless they are made from silver or another easily tarnished metal.