Crab legs for a birthday. Scallops for an anniversary. Salmon for when family are in town. Many people enjoy eating seafood at restaurants as it is a favourite choice for celebratory meals. However, when it comes to cooking seafood at home, it can be intimidating. Seafood – fish and shellfish – is surprisingly simple to cook with a few tips and tricks.
“Seafood is easy, delicious and widely available, making it a great option for home cooks,” says Linda Cornish, president of Seafood Nutrition Partnership. “Whether it is shellfish or a fillet of your favorite fish variety, seafood makes any day special. Plus, you can feel good about enjoying immune-boosting food rich in vitamins A, B and D, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and minerals such as calcium, selenium, iron, zinc and more.”
To help kick up your confidence in the kitchen when cooking seafood, Seafood Nutrition Partnership offers simple kitchen tips:
The 10-minute rule
Measure the fish at its thickest point. Cook it on medium-high (about 180º C) for 10 minutes per inch, turning halfway through the cooking time. That means a thin fish like sole or pollock cooks in about 4-5 minutes while a thicker salmon or tuna steak might be 15 minutes.
Test for the flake
The best way to tell if fish is done is by testing it with a fork: insert it at an angle at the thickest point and twist gently. The fish will flake easily when it’s done, and it will lose its translucent or raw appearance.
Create foil packets
Foil makes cooking seafood and cleanup simple. Choose your seafood, such as shrimp or a piece of fish, and vegetables such as bell pepper, green beans, cherry tomatoes or zucchini. Use a large piece of foil and layer fish on top of veggies, season to taste, add a couple of lemon slices, and add a drizzle of oil before cooking in the oven, on the grill or even campfire.
Steam on the stovetop
Steaming is a popular way to cook shellfish due to its simplicity. Fill a deep pot with 1-2 inches of water, add wire rack and bring to a boil. Add seafood and cover to cook. Seafood like lobster, crab legs and shrimp will turn pink or red when done, so look for the bright color and then enjoy.
Stock up canned/frozen options
Fill your freezer with seafood when it’s on sale, so there’s something always ready to go when meal planning. When you’re at the grocery store, also grab canned seafood that is often a reasonably priced alternative. Then try adding into favourite recipes or toss into salads or pastas for an easy meal that is sustainable and planet-friendly.
Cook once, eat twice
Try doubling recipes to get ahead on cooking and have a dinner or lunch ready for later in the week. Recipes that freeze well, such as chowder or gumbo, are great to double. Also, consider cooking an extra piece of fish to use on a salad or in a sandwich the next day.
Try pre-prepped seafood from your local grocery store to just bring home and heat. Instructions are typically on the package but if you have questions, ask the pros at the seafood counter.
Try new recipes
With everyone spending more time at home, it’s fun to try new recipes. You can enjoy restaurant-quality seafood dishes at home in a few simple steps. Be inspired with this recipe that can be updated with whatever fish fillets or veggies you have on hand. For a quick one-pan meal, choose vegetables and slice them to cook in about the same time as your fish.
Pesto Salmon Sheet Pan
2 cups cubes squash
1 red onion, chunked
2 cups baby potatoes – halved
½ cauliflower head, chunked
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper – to taste
½ cup pesto
Preheat the oven to 200º C. On a large sheet pan, place squash, red onions, potatoes and cauliflower. Sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat well and place in single layer around the edges of the pan. Add salmon to the sheet pan and spread with about half the pesto. Roast at 200º C for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness, until salmon is tender and cooked through.
Top with the remaining pesto and serve.