A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking Great Fish and Seafood
It is a great time to learn how to cook seafood if eating healthier is at the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions. Seafood is a wonderful source of lean protein, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids. The biggest obstacle to making a quick and delicious seafood meal is inexperience.
Visit our wholesale fish market to purchase seafood for the next meal you learn to cook!
The thought of making fish or other seafood for the first time can be intimidating because it is so different from other types of meat. Once you know what you are doing, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. Cooking fish and seafood is simple as long as you understand the basic elements of choosing and preparing seafood.
How to Choose the Best Fish and Shellfish
If you are buying fish steaks or fillets, make sure:
– The meat looks firm and feels slightly resistant when touched, not mushy.
– It smells salty, like the sea, not “fishy.”
– If buying it frozen, there should be no signs of freezer burn.
If you are buying whole fish, only select fish that have:
– Taut, bright skin with no missing scales and shiny clear eyes.
– Firm, intact stomachs and gills that are bright and moist.
– If you don’t want to remove the scales, guts and gills yourself, ask the fishmonger to “dress” the fish for you.
The Right Way to Store Fish
Fresh fish should be cooked within 24 hours. The texture and flavor of a fish can breakdown quickly. If you store it in the fridge before cooking, it should be in a sealed bag on top of a bowl of ice. You should put it in the coldest corner of the fridge. If it starts to smell “fishy,” it should be thrown away.
If you have to freeze it, the best way to preserve its freshness is to store it in a container with ice underneath instead of in a freezer bag. Most fish will lose flavor and texture after 2 -3 months in the freezer.
How to Prep Seafood: Removing Bones & Skinning
Most fish you buy will already be deboned and filleted. If it isn’t, you can use tweezer or needle-nose pliers to remove the bones. Pin bones can be hard to see. You can find them by running your hand gently over the meat to feel for the bones.
Some types of fish can be cooked with their skin on like flounder or sole. Your local fishmonger can let you know whether or not the fish you buy needs to be skinned.
If you need to remove the skin, start the process by placing the fish on a cutting board with the skin-side down. Then place a chef’s knife between the skin and flesh at the end of the body on the tail side. Run the knife down the fillet slowly with it slightly angled down. Grip the skin as you move the knife until it is free.
If you leave the skin on, use a knife to score the skin with hashmarks. Then pat the skin dry with paper towels. This will help the skin become nicely crispy when cooked.
The Secrets to Cooking Seafood
Seafood can be cooked many ways: grilled, boiled, sautéed, or fried. The cooking method that you choose should be based upon the type of fish you are making. Leaner fish and thin fillets are best pan-fried or poached. Fatty fish and meaty fish steaks are best grilled or broiled. Shrimps and scallops can be grilled, boiled, sautéed or fried as long as you remove them from the heat quickly.
Once you’ve chosen the right method, the trick to making it perfectly is keeping your eye on it. Fish and shellfish cook in minutes. This quick cook time is one of the biggest differences from other types of meat. Seafood can easily become tough or rubbering if you let it cook too long. Once the color changes from a raw hue to a cooked tone, it should be removed from the heat.
If you follow these guidelines, you can make excellent seafood recipes. Check out our Pinterest for meal inspiration! Stop by our seafood counter to learn more about specific types of fish and pickup seafood for your next meal.