Eat More Seafood Part 3: Quick and Easy Recipes

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…

File:NCI steamed shrimp.jpg

  • 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.

Steamer clams, photo taken by Paul Keleher

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)

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.


5 thoughts on “Eat More Seafood Part 3: Quick and Easy Recipes

  1. What about shrimp? I can buy shrimp at my supermarket from Thailand. Is this a good idea? Is shrimp sustainable in this country?

    • Jan,
      Well, it depends… Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program rates farmed shrimp from Thailand a good choice, AS LONG AS they are raised in closed circulation tanks or inland ponds. The open pens in the oceans that many shrimp farms use create a lot of water pollution and damage the mangrove swamps. And there is too little oversight and management of the wild fisheries in Thailand, so wild caught shrimp from Thailand are NOT sustainable. Some people would say that even shrimp raised in closed tanks and ponds are fed too many antibiotics and pesticides for them to be healthy, and that all the fish meal they are fed keeps farmed shrimp from being truly sustainable…
      So, I suppose if the shrimp you are buying is clearly labeled with the method in which it was raised or caught, it will be easier for you to make your decision. I think the most sustainable shrimp is wild caught in the US or Canada, Especially from the gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and pink shrimp from Oregon. If you want to learn more, I have links in the sidebar to some great sources of information and sustainable seafood guides like Seafood Watch, Blue Ocean Institute, and Food and Water Watch.
      Sorry I can’t give you a simple yes or no answer, but I can tell you that I personally try to only purchase US seafood.
      I hope this is helpful,

  2. I feel like I should also mention one of my husband’s favorite dishes, shrimp and grits. Personally, I have a hard time eating seafood in the morning, but this is Zed’s favorite breakfast… Cook up some grits (we use Bob’s Red Mill, but any kind will do), saute some shrimp or prawns in lots of garlic, butter, salt and pepper (we throw in a splash of whiskey and light the whole thing on fire!), and serve the shrimp on top of a pile of grits with some hot sauce… Southern style.

  3. YUM! (Well, mostly re: the article recipes – I haven’t been quite sold on grits yet, but it sounds impressive!) Robin, good on you for breaking a huge, somewhat intimidating issue down so well for folks. Also, great analysis on the shrimp issue. I spent a couple autumns commercial shrimping in SE AK, and as tends to be the case with Alaskan fisheries, found it to be well-monitored and carefully-regulated. (And a lot of fun as a deckhand – the only fishery I’ve worked in where we legally weren’t ALLOWED to start working before 8 a.m.!) Anyway, great job.

    • Thanks Tele!
      Good to hear that the shrimp fishery in AK is well managed -it doesn’t surprise me, but it means more hearing it first hand from a fisherman than reading it in some seafood guide. Go AK!

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