Savoring Seafood

0003Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthful diet. They contain high quality protein and other essential nutrients, can be low in saturated fat and may contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Buying, storing, thawing

When purchasing seafood, look for freshness. In some species, if the catch has been left out in the sun too long or has not been transported under proper refrigeration, toxins known as scombrotoxin, or histamine, can develop. Eating spoiled fish that have high levels of these toxins can cause illness.    

    If seafood will be used within two days after purchase, refrigeration is adequate. Otherwise, wrap it tightly in moisture-proof freezer paper or foil to protect it from air leaks, and store it in the freezer.

    Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. To thaw quickly, seal it in a plastic bag (if it’s not already vacuum sealed or in a closed sealed pouch) and immerse it in cold water. If it will be cooked immediately after thawing, carefully microwave it on the “defrost” setting, removing the fish when it is still icy but pliable.

Cooking and grilling

Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 °F. The flesh of flat fish should be opaque and separate easily. In the case of shrimp and lobster, the flesh becomes pearly-opaque when adequately cooked; scallops turn milky white or opaque and become firm; clams, mussels and oysters are done when their shells open. Throw out the ones that don’t open.

    When grilling directly on the grill it is best to use a firm-fleshed fish like grouper, marlin, salmon or tuna. A special fish/vegetable grid will make grilling easier and help keep your food from falling through. You may want to use a wire grill basket, particularly with delicate fillets.

    Consider marinades for additional flavor. Due to their lack of connective tissue, fish absorb marinades easily; over-marinating risks overpowering the flavor of your fish.