A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking With Seafood

Around 56% of Americans eat seafood twice a month which shows we’re fish fanatics. 

Whipping up seafood has many benefits as it’s nutritious, excellent for your brain, and versatile. Perhaps you’re taking the plunge and want to make delicious seafood dishes for your family, but you’re not sure where to start.

Sounds like you? Luckily, we’re here to help. Here’s our beginner’s guide to cooking with seafood.  

Avoid Endangered Fish

Before browsing the different types of seafood, know you must avoid endangered fish. The fishing industriously is notoriously unsustainable and some species still haven’t recovered.

For instance, Atlantic bluefin tuna, pollock, and red snapper are on the list and should be avoided.  

Buy Fresh and Sustainable If You Can

Whether you want a crab dinner or homemade sushi, it’s best to buy fresh seafood. This is so you can enjoy a delicious taste and prevent any illnesses from expired seafood.

As you browse the fish section, check that the ice has no gray areas as it means it hasn’t been changed recently. Also, there shouldn’t be a strong fishy smell because that ammonia odor is a sign that the fish is deteriorating.

Further, the fish’s eyes should be clear and bulging. Avoid any that have misty or sunken eyes especially if they have sticky gills. You should ask if you can feel the fish as it must have firm, shiny flesh so there’s no indentation. 

If there are endangered fish, ask for alternatives that have the same taste and how it’s best prepared. And don’t be afraid to ask the fishmonger to dress the fish for you so they remove the guts, gills, and scales.  

But Frozen Fish Is Good Too

You’ll notice seafood recipes work with frozen fish so don’t be put off. Not everyone has access to fresh fish and that doesn’t mean you should forgo a delicious oyster dinner because of it.

Note that frozen fish needs a longer cooking time at a higher temperature. Start by rinsing off any excess ice with cool water, then let the fish thaw. Regardless of how you cook it, use a thermometer to check it’s thoroughly cooked before serving.   

Store Seafood Properly

You may wonder how to cook seafood, but it’s important to start by correctly storing it. Fresh fish spoils quickly so slip them into sandwich bags and place these atop a bowl of ice. This will keep your seafood cold while you prepare the meal. 

It’s also important that you know how to thaw your frozen fish. Place the fish into the refrigerator 24 hours before and keep it in a bowl so it doesn’t make a mess.

You should also cover the top with cling film so that it doesn’t potentially contaminate other food. 

You can also thaw your fish using the cool water method, perfect if you have little time. Slip the fish into a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold tap water. Wait 30 minutes and then change the water until the seafood has completely defrosted. 

Although it’s tempting, never use hot water to accelerate the process as it could attract bacteria. Once your fish has fully thawed, cook it immediately. 

Know the Different Cooking Styles

One of the healthiest ways to prepare seafood is by steaming it.

This is where the steam from simmering water heats the fish without taking away any nutrients or flavor. Most chefs enhance the taste by adding white wine, fresh herbs, and onions so it adds a subtle fragrance to your dish.

Another popular method is grilling, a life-saver if you’re a clean eater. Unlike steaming, grilling gives your fish a crispy skin so there’s more texture.

You can either use a gas grill or if you’re feeling adventurous, chuck your filet on the BBQ for an added smokey flavor. Pro tip: brush the fish in a thin coating of mayonnaise to stop it from sticking to the grill. 

Other seafood aficionados swear by broiling their seafood.

Note, you’ll notice it’s like grilling but the heat comes from above the fish, rather than below. This technique gives your fish a nutty taste and works best for cod or salmon, although any small species work too. And to get the best results, slather olive oil then season the seafood for a deeper taste. 

If you’re after a subtle taste, try poaching your fish. To do this, submerge the whole fish in a bath of seasoned liquid so you can enjoy the light, flakier texture. Poaching is fantastic for firm fish but also works with shellfish like scallops. 

Cooking Shellfish 

Not sure how to make a crab dinner?

Luckily, you can cook shellfish with all the above techniques but there are certain rules. Make sure that it’s cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid getting sick.

And because it’s impractical to use a food thermometer, you must know the signs. For instance, shucked shellfish, like oysters, turn plump, and the sides of the shell curl. Further, scallops turn opaque and firm, whereas cooked shrimp is pink.

You can often buy pre-cooked crab meat but if you want fresh, then cook your crab until it’s orange or red. If it’s greenish-brown, then you must boil it for longer. 

Enjoy Our Cooking With Seafood Guide

Hopefully, you’re now confident about cooking with seafood. 

Buy fresh fish when you can, know how to store it properly, and decide your preferred way of cooking. You must use a food thermometer and learn how to spot cooked seafood to ensure you’re safe. Enjoy!

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