12 Tips for Cooking Fish and Seafood
Despite what many amateur cooks may believe, fish is relatively easy to prepare. Better still, seafood offers an array of health benefits not found in other animal-based products.
Here are some tips to help you minimize those fishy odors, ensure sanitary preparation and cook your fish meals to perfection.
1. Learn Common Fish Types
If you’ve grown up around the ocean or you’ve spent time in Japan, you’re probably familiar with a few varieties of seafood.
Salmon and tuna are two commonly-eaten scaled fish, while the shellfish category typically features mussels, shrimp, oysters and clams.
2. Don’t Get Hung Up on Fat
No two fish are exactly alike, and while two species may live in the same lake or ocean, differences in fat content and taste can be substantial.
Unlike fat from beef and chicken, however, fish oil provides some fantastic health benefits thanks to its rich concentration of omega 3 fatty acids.
High-fat fish flesh is usually darker than lean flesh and can contain up to 30% oil.
Exact percentages do vary according to the species, season and depth at which the fish was caught. Common varieties used in high-fat fish meals include:
- Chilean Sea Bass
3. Go White for Lean
In general, white flesh comes with a lower fat content, typically between 0.5 and 5 percent.
Unlike fatty fish that store oil in their tissues, white fish only store oil primarily in their livers.
Here are some popular choices:
- Black Drum
- Wild Striped Bass
- Red Drum
4. Shop for Quality and Know What to Look For
When preparing sea foods, it’s important to shop from reputable sources. Likewise, it’s crucial that you keep your cuts cold. If you’re out running errands, make your fish purchase your last stop.
Consider carrying a small cooler in your vehicle or ask the store clerk to pack your fish on ice.
When it comes to shellfish like clams and oysters, be sure you purchase only live specimens.
Lightly tap any slightly-opened shells. If the shell closes up tightly, you’ve got a live clam.
When buying fresh pre-cut steaks, loins or fillets, look for firm, translucent flesh with no discoloration.
To avoid separation, be sure your fish is packaged in a way that does not allow the meat to bend.
For shoppers hoping to snag a deal on fresh whole fish meals, look for a clean, shiny surface with tight scales.
Avoid protruding bones, cut marks, slime and mucus, and hone in on gills that are red or pink.
In general, fresh seafood should give off a mild smell similar to the ocean. Shy away from any selection carrying an unusually strong odor.
5. Store your Fish With Care
Make sure you store your fish in the coldest part of your fridge. Use leak-proof containers, but never go airtight when keeping live shellfish.
As a generally rule of thumb, lean fish is good in a freezer for up to six months, while oily fish is best if consumed within three months.
6. Prepare your Fish With Care
Most sea food meals require a little planning. Thaw out your frozen fish overnight in your refrigerator, but never leave it sitting at room temperature. Likewise, keep your cuts cold while marinating.
If you want to use frozen seafood immediately, run it under cold water.
If using the defrost setting on your microwave, open the door regularly to avoid cooking the outside flesh prematurely.
Additionally, always wash your hands and containers when handling raw seafood.
Avoid dripping juices around your kitchen, discard used marinades and avoid cross-contaminating other foods. If you suspect your fish to be spoiled, throw it out.
7. Use the 10-Minute Rule
When it comes to cooking easy and healthy fish meals, timing is everything. To retain moisture and flavor in your fillets, use 10 minutes for every inch of fish and remember to flip larger pieces.
Add a few extra minutes when using sauces or foils, and double the cook time for fish that is still frozen.
8. Less Time Is Better
Overcooking is by far the most common mistake people make when preparing fish meals.
Seafood cooks surprisingly fast, and you’ll enjoy the best tastes by removing the heat just before your fish becomes fully opaque or white.
It should be firm but moist and just about to flake.
Cooking fish until it’s completely white or already flaking usually results in dry, tough meat.
9. Baking and Broiling
This is a quick and easy method, but cook time depends on the thickness of your fish.
Place thin cuts about two to four inches away from the flame or coils. Fillets over one inch thick should be kept five or six inches away from the heat source.
Consider basting lean fish and all shellfish to avoid drying out the flesh.
Baking is a great choice for marinated fish meals.
10. Frying Fish
Oil and preheat your pan to medium-high. Immediately shake the pan after adding your fish and then allow it to sit for several minutes to develop color.
…flip the fillet and continue cooking until just before it’s fully opaque throughout.
11. Take Advantage of Your BBQ
Grilling is an excellent way tot prepare firm-textured fish.
Preheat your grill for 30 minutes and be sure the cooking surface is well oiled and set between four and six inches above the flame.
Remember that fish with skin will not need to be flipped.
Steaming is a great option for shellfish and lighter fillets. Bring one inch of water to a boil and add fish, vegetables, herbs and more.
As with any method, steamed seafood is done right before it’s fully opaque throughout.
6 Reasons Why Sea Foods Must Be Consumed on a Weekly Basis
Fish are a perennial staple on healthy menus because of their minimal fat and delicious taste.
In fact, sea foods have low amounts of saturated fats, the unhealthy ones, and high amounts of the healthy ones: omega-3 fatty acids.
To be a bit more specific, the two fatty acids are called DHA and EPA.
By consuming DHA and EPA two to three times a week, you’ll reap many of seafood’s health benefits.
High in protein but low in fats, sea foods are a tasty and nutritional way to improve your life. This is why sea foods must be consumed on a weekly basis:
- Keep Your Heart Healthy
Eating fish will lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and regulate blood clotting and vessel constriction.
The omega-3 fatty acids shelter your heart from disease and lower your blood’s cholesterol.
By eating a good amount of these sea critters, you’ll be able to keep up good cardiovascular health.
To keep your heart pumping fresh blood throughout your body, try an extra helping of Anchovies, Mussels or Whitefish.
- Put a Stop To Depression
The oil in fish seems to accentuate the abilities of antidepressants to do their jobs and increase overall wellness.
These oils could also ameliorate the depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder.
Since fish also lead to a more robust heart, with that comes an ability to exercise more frequently and exercise is an excellent natural way to fend off depression.
Brighten your day with a taste of Sablefish, Arctic char, Shrimp or Farmed Rainbow Trout.
- Shrink Inflammation
Seafood diets high in omega-3 acids decrease tissue inflammation, the principle cause of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you’re having trouble breathing even with an inhaler or can’t seem to find a permanent cure for joint pain, you may find relief by following this maritime diet.
With a serving of Atlantic Mackerel, Scallop, Lake Trout or Blue Crab, you’ll be shrinking inflammation in no time.
- Alzheimer’s & Dementia
Omega-3s may shield the brain from these degenerative diseases and even prevent memory loss associated with getting older.
Because they may also lessen the chance of experiencing cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), they decrease depression and its correlated mental decline with aging.
To prevent brain degeneration, add some Bluefish, Alaskan Wild Salmon, Atlantic Herring or Pollack to your plate.
- Baby Development
These chemicals in seafood are essential for prenatal and postnatal development.
In particular, they have favorable effects on the formation of the infant’s nervous system and cardiovascular system.
If you’re pregnant or are trying to become that way, adding a few helpings of fish each week will nourish your growing child.
For a robust baby, try putting Sardines, Sturgeon, Alaskan King Crab or Halibut on the grocery list.
In some children, fishy diets alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and enhance their mental acuity.
Children on these diets report to have had higher cognitive functions, such as analytical thinking, apprehending information and data recall.
Getting your child to eat a few more fishy treats each week may lesson hyperactivity and improve focus.
Add Wild Eastern Oyster, Farmed Salmon, Pacific and Jack Mackerel or Albacore Tuna to your child’s dinner menu.