Health-conscious consumers put seafood items on the table at least twice per week, but many people don’t eat fish as often as they would like because they are unsure of proper preparation methods. If you love the taste of seafood and want to experience its health benefits but feel that you don’t have the necessary culinary skills to do it justice, here are a few tips to get your started cooking tasty seafood meals in your home kitchen.
Because even the most skilled chefs can’t make a delicious meal out of a piece of fish that’s past its prime, let quality be the deciding factor. When shopping for seafood, bypass anything that has an odor because that’s an indication that the meat is beginning to decompose. Look for plump, juicy filets and steaks that have a gloss to the skin.
The Importance of Proper Storage
Fresh fish is among the most expensive items at the market, and it makes little sense to spend good money on high quality raw seafood and then allow it to be ruined by improper storage methods. It’s best to prepare and consume the fish as soon as possible after bringing it home, but when this isn’t possible, store the fish on ice inside of your refrigerator.
Don’t Look Down Your Nose At Frozen Fish
Don’t automatically think that fresh seafood is your best choice. Flash freezing techniques have made it possible for retailers to offer top-quality seafood items on a year-round basis instead of just during the commercial fishing season. Fish that is flash-frozen soon after being caught retains the level of freshness that it had just prior to freezing. Most fish that is flash-frozen has also been vacuum sealed, making it less likely to have developed freezer burn.
Let Its Natural Flavor Shine
Don’t try to mask the taste of any kind of seafood by over-spicing and using strong marinades. The taste of the fish itself should provide the dominant flavour. Salmon, for instance, can be prepared using a small amount of olive oil, garlic and basic seasonings such as salt and pepper. Keep in mind that the fattier the fish, the less oil or butter will be needed in it’s preparation.
Overcooking is the biggest mistake that home cooks make when preparing seafood, resulting in unpalatable meals that are dry, rubbery and tough. Properly cooked fish should flake easily with a fork.
To avoid overcooking, begin with room-temperature fish. Quickly searing the fish in hot oil or butter will cause a slight crust to form, sealing in moisture. The fish can then be cooked over medium heat until it flakes with a fork and the internal temperature reaches 60 degrees Cecilius. An instant-read thermometer is an invaluable tool for those desiring to learn optimal seafood preparation techniques.
Practice and additional research will equip you to skillfully create high-quality seafood meals in your home kitchen. Remember to always buy quality, treat it well, don’t overcook and don’t overwhelm with spices and heavy sauces.
Leon is the Seafood Chef at the Deckhouse Woolwich Restaurant in Sydney, Australia. He says anyone can prepare quality seafood at home if you follow his five tips. Leon has written two best-selling seafood cookbooks and is currently writing his third.