This is my final post in my series “How to Eat More Seafood.” My previous posts about working more seafood into your diet can be read here: How to Eat More Seafood: An Introduction, Eat More Seafood Part 1: What to Buy, and Eat More Seafood Part 2: You Can Afford It!
I get lots of questions from people about how to prepare seafood, and I know it can be intimidating if you aren’t used to cooking it (before I married a fisherman, I rarely cooked seafood because I was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with it). So I’m providing some advice for those who don’t feel comfortable cooking seafood. These are easy tips and recipes from the perspective of a mother (I need recipes to be easy and fast because I have to cook to the sounds of screaming, crying, whining, and an endless stream of questions like “what is that? Can we have pizza? Why are you doing that? Can I have this sharp knife? Can I have candy? What about this knife?”). These are recipes that I actually use on a regular basis…
PASTA DISHES: Many types of fish, and pretty much all types of shellfish go great with pasta. For example…
- Add a can of salmon, a can of clams, shrimp, or crab meat to any type of pasta sauce, red or white (it’s OK to use a jar of sauce, we don’t always have time to make our own!)
- Make a simple sauce with olive oil, garlic, white wine, diced tomatoes (canned is fine) and parsley. Throw in some shrimp or a can of clams, pour it over spaghetti or linguine and you’re good to go.
- Add a can of salmon or tuna to macaroni and cheese. My kids love this, so I add frozen peas to make it healthier.
BAKED or BBQ-ED: If you have any whole fish or a fillet of fish, there are endless ways to bake or BBQ it, just as long as you don’t overcook it.
- If you are concerned about your fish drying out, make a foil envelope to enclose the fish in.
- Put it on the BBQ on a piece of foil, or directly on the grate (skin side down), or in a pan in the oven (375° – 450° F). Top it with any combination of herbs, onions, garlic and citrus
- –A classic combo is onions, lemon and dill (especially good on salmon).
- –Go Mexican with garlic, cayenne pepper, cilantro and lime.
- –Try Italian, with onions, garlic, sliced tomatoes, and parsley or oregano (feta cheese is greek, but it would go great with these flavors)
- Spread a layer of pesto on your fillet, pop it in the oven, and when the fish is almost done, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on then finish cooking it to melt the cheese.
- Most fish can benefit from a little olive oil or butter and a generous sprinkling of salt.
- Check your fish regularly as it cooks and try to pry apart the layers with a fork. If the layers flake apart easily and the meat looks more opaque than translucent, it’s done!
FISH TACOS: This is one of my favorite ways to eat mild white fish. Just cut the fish up into chunks, salt it, and fry it in some olive oil (garlic is good too). Put it in a warm corn tortilla with shredded cabbage or lettuce, chopped onions, cilantro and squeeze on some lime juice. Deliciously simple!
BIVALVES: I LOVE clams and mussels! I am also lucky that I live close to a shellfish farm that sells them at a really reasonable price, but I understand that not everyone has access to fresh, live bivalves. But if you are so lucky, this is my favorite way to prepare them…
- Heat a couple tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup white wine in a large frying pan or wide saucepan over medium heat.
- Add as much chopped garlic as you want, more is better and you can’t really have too much.
- Add a finely chopped tomato or a can of diced tomatoes.
- Toss in a hand full of chopped parsley
- Throw in a pound or two of live clams, put a lid on the pot and cook until all the clams open. If one doesn’t ever open, throw it out, it was already dead.
- Serve the clams and juice with a loaf of fresh bread.
Salmon Burgers: You can use cooked salmon if you have it, but I always use canned salmon, because it’s cheap and easy and I always have some in my pantry.
- Mix one 7.5 oz can of salmon with,
- One egg,
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs,
- 1/4 cup chopped onion,
- Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon,
- A tablespoon or so of chopped parsley or dill
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Form into 2 patties and fry over medium heat in a little olive oil for about 5 min on each side or until browned.
FIND MORE SEAFOOD RECIPES!: I have these sites bookmarked on my computer, so I can reference them when I’m planning meals. (in my sidebar I have more links to sites I use for recipes)
- For more canned salmon recipes, check out Pure Alaska Salmon Co. and Alaskaseafood.org
- I hate to admit it, but I really like Martha Stewart’s collection of Quick and Easy Fish and Shellfish Recipes that can all be completed in under an hour
- Sunset Magazine’s collection of 108 Sustainable Seafood Recipes, with recipes for everything from mussels to squid and tuna to trout.
- Parents should go to Kidsafe Seafood for, not only a list of sustainable seafood that is low in mercury and other contaminants, but also a pretty good list of family friendly recipes.
So that’s pretty much it… cooking seafood can be a pretty simple affair. Simple enough to become part of your regular meal plan, with enough cheap options to find a spot on your grocery list, and with enough sustainable choices that you can feel good about supporting. Seafood is so important for your overall health, there really aren’t any good reasons not to eat more of it.
I would love to try and answer any questions you might still have about cooking seafood. I’m not an expert by any means, but I love cooking, and I love talking about cooking, so shoot me a question. If I don’t know the answer, there’s a good chance I know a fisherman who does.