Whether prepared in a professional kitchen or at home, seafood dishes can be simultaneously versatile and simple. Little seasoning or preparation is needed to create a tasty seafood dish, and the health benefits will keep you coming back for new ways to incorporate the bounty of the sea at dinner time.
“There are a lot of misperceptions around seafood, and a lot of people think that seafood is very labor-intensive and takes a lot of preparation,” says Rima Kleiner, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant.
“And really, the opposite is true. Seafood is very versatile, and it’s very easy to prepare.”
Kleiner runs Dish on Fish, a blog that offers seafood recipes and health information. “We created it about two years ago, and basically the aim of Dish on Fish is to really be a useful resource for consumers and health care professionals to find out more about seafood and how to prepare seafood easily and quickly,” Kleiner says.
Substituting seafood for another meat protein in a favorite family recipe can be an easy way to incorporate more ocean offerings into your diet without radically changing things up.
When making hamburgers, Kleiner suggests simply switching from beef to salmon. “It’s easy to whip up some salmon burgers and make those on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill,” Kleiner says.
The same tactic can be applied when making chicken quesadillas, Kleiner says. Just use tuna instead.
A grilled cod and avocado taco is another simple recipe Kleiner recommends trying. Start by marinating the cod with lemon juice and olive oils, throw that on the grill, and put it on corn tortillas with maybe broccoli or cabbage slaw and avocado. “And you’ve got a very easy fish taco,” Kleiner says.
Those new to buying seafood should be open to asking questions and learning about their options, she says. In fact, you may not have a recipe in mind until after you go to the local fish market to see what is in season or fresh off the boat. “I encourage people who are buying from the seafood counter, don’t be afraid to ask questions to the person who is selling the seafood, and ask what they might recommend,” she says.
Not only does it taste delicious and is relatively easy to cook, seafood also has many health benefits.
“Seafood is a great source of protein and really high a variety of nutrients,” Kleiner says. In particular, since most foods do not naturally contain Vitamin D, getting some just by eating salmon and other fish is an extra benefit. “Most seafood is high in Vitamin D, which is really important our hearts … so that’s a great way to get some extra Vitamin D in your diet — just add more fish,” Kleiner says.
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Getting creative in the kitchen is one of his favorite parts of the job, Lynch says, and a multitude of seafood dishes can be created through unique approaches to classic recipes.
On shopping for seafood:
The freshness of a fish can be determined quickly by its look and smell, Lynch says.
“If you’re doing whole fish, you can tell by the eyes — they need to be clear, not cloudy,” he says. “And then for us, the biggest thing is just the smell of it — if you smell the fish, it should smell like the ocean.”
Don’t be afraid to incorporate seafood into different cuisines, he says. Lynch creates most of the restaurant’s specials each week, often adding a Latin or Asian flavor to traditional seafood dishes. “It’s just real interesting food,” he says. “Everything we do, we try to do something different from what other people are doing around here.”
On achieving the perfect sear:
Lynch recommends taking a hot sauté pan, putting down olive oil or butter, and making sure the fish isn’t wet when placed in the pan.
“We cook pretty much all of our fish to just a little above medium so that it’s still nice and moist,” he says.
Source: Golden Isles: The Magazine for Brunswick, St Simons Island. Jekyll, & Sea Island. Grab and Go Fresh and Fast Seafood, by: Lauren McDonald.