How to Avoid Rubbery Fish & Other Seafood Cooking Fails
Have you ever tried to recreate your favorite seafood recipe at home, but your fish turned out dry, or the shellfish was rubbery? You aren’t alone! It’s easy to accidentally overcook seafood, especially small shellfish—like shrimp and mussels—and thin fish fillets. The texture can also turn out mushy if it is too saturated with water. Fortunately, you can start making restaurant-quality seafood at home with these seafood cooking tips.
#1 Tip for Cooking Seafood
Always pat seafood dry with a paper towel or clean tea towel before cooking. Soaking up water on the outside can prevent fish from having a mushy texture. Most of all, it helps shrimp, scallops, and fish get nice and crispy.
Cooking Tips for Frying Seafood
For the best crispy shrimp or fish, use these cooking tips:
- Use a cooking thermometer to ensure the vegetable oil is around 375° F before adding the battered or breaded seafood.
- Never crowd the frying pan. Add just a few fish sticks, fish fillets, or pieces of shrimp to the pan. If the pan is too full, it will bring down the temperature of the oil. This makes fried foods greasy and less crispy.
- Want your seafood to have a light, fluffy batter? Use self-rising flour instead of regular flour. Or substitute a carbonated beverage—like carbonated water or beer—for water when you mix up the batter.
Cooking Tips for Shrimp & Scallops
If you are planning to sauté shrimp or scallops, coat both sides with corn starch mixed with a dash of salt and pepper. This will help it brown beautifully.
When boiling shrimp, keep in mind that it only takes 60-90 seconds. After you drop the shrimp into the water, use tongs to pull out pieces of shrimp as soon as they curl into a C-shape and no longer look translucent.
Cooking Tips Fish
- If you want to get rid of that fishy smell, soak the fish in milk for 30 – 60 minutes.
- Follow the 10-minute rule (https://cfishct.com/blog/10-minute-rule-for-fish). Use a clean ruler to measure the thickest part of the fish fillet or fish steak. Cook the fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
- When cooking thick cuts of fish, pull them out of the fridge 15-25 minutes early. Let it rest on the counter to bring down the temperature before cooking. This will help it cook more evenly. (To avoid food sickness, be sure not to leave it out on the counter for longer than 30 minutes.)
- In the mood food grilled seafood? Pick a hearty fish like salmon or tuna that’s less likely to dry out in the high heat of the grill. Or, if you want to grill in lighter fish, wrap it in a foil packet before placing it on the grill.
- Grilling fish on a wooden plank—that was soaked in water for a half-hour beforehand—will enhance the flavor and prevent it from sticking to the grill.
Mussels & Clams
Always throw away any mussels or clams with cracked shells. Also, toss out any shells that don’t close when you tap on them. Getting rid of these shellfish is the best way to prevent eating shellfish that have already gone bad.
Mussels and clams cook almost as quickly as shrimp. The cooking time for mussels is 3-5 minutes and 5-10 minutes for clams. The best way to prevent shellfish from becoming chewy is by using tongs to remove them as soon as they are done. Set a large bowl by your cooking pot and move mussels or clams to it as soon as they pop open.
The next time you make seafood at home, we hope these fish and shellfish cooking tips help you. Browse through our blog for even more seafood cooking tips or recipes!
If you have a question we haven’t answered, ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff at City Fish Market! In 2021, we were named the best Fresh Fish market by Connecticut Magazine. Stop by our location in Wethersfield, Connecticut, off Silas Deane Highway, to check out our large selection of fish and shellfish. Or call us at 860-522-3129 to find out what is in season!