From new explorers to long-time fans, we’ve always enjoyed providing Dish on Fish readers with tasty recipes, meal-planning inspiration and helpful seafood tips and tricks. We know that cooking with seafood is fun, delicious and easy—but it’s also healthy too! The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least two to three servings of seafood a week as a part of a nutritious and balanced diet.
This means that when you prepare seafood meals, you’re not just indulging in scrumptious dishes—you’re also making a choice that supports the overall well-being of you and your family. According to a USDA survey, most Americans (about 80–90%) do not meet the recommendations for seafood. And one of the reasons cited for eating too little seafood? Lack of confidence in the kitchen when it comes to cooking fish.
So, whether you’re a kitchen newbie or a seasoned pro, we’ve got a great refresher to help you understand the basics and master the art of seafood cookery at home!
How to Prepare Seafood for Cooking
If you aim to become an expert in grilling seafood or prefer oven-baked fish, this straightforward pre-cooking preparation method is suitable for all cooking techniques. Begin by allowing the seafood to reach room temperature, which typically takes around 10-15 minutes. If you’re working with frozen seafood—defrost overnight in the refrigerator to prepare.
However, if you’re in a hurry and can’t spare the time for thawing, fret not! Start by rinsing the fish under cold running water to eliminate any ice crystals. Afterward, gently pat it dry, and you’re good to start cooking. There’s no need to modify the cooking temperature; simply anticipate a slightly longer cooking time of 2-3 minutes more then what the recipe suggests. Always ensure you check the internal temperature at the thickest section of the fish to guarantee it’s cooked through.
Styles of Seafood Cooking
Between the variety of fresh, frozen and canned/pouched seafood offerings, there are so many ways to get creative with your seafood cooking style. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, which just adds to the fun! Here are some popular methods to cook seafood and how to give each of them a go.
Baked Seafood: If you want a simple, mess-free option, try baking your seafood. It’s perfect for fish like salmon, cod, wild Alaska pollock, trout and tilapia. Just brush on a marinade of your choice and preheat the oven. You can even add some veggies for a complete one-pan seafood meal.
Broiled Seafood: For anyone craving a bit of crunch with their seafood, it’s time to fire up the broiler! From crabcakes to shrimp, scallops, salmon or tuna steaks—broiled seafood offers a delightful crispy texture. A drizzle of healthy fat from olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and some cracked pepper, and you’re in for a treat.
Pan-Fried Seafood: You’ll be amazed by the sear you can achieve with just a drizzle of olive oil and some seafood. Pick a species, season well, heat the pan and you are good to go! Sizzle your way to a flaky, flavorful inside, while the outside fries to crispy perfection. It’s just that easy!
Air-Fried Seafood: We might be a bit obsessed with air-frying seafood. It’s a healthier alternative to deep-frying and makes for a quick, hands-off cooking experience. We love making salmon, scallops, crab cakes, shrimp tempura, homemade calamari and more—all in our handy-dandy air-fryer.
Blackened Seafood: If you’re all about bold seasonings and a spicy kick, this is going to be your new go-to cooking method. Blackening traditionally involves mixing spices like chili pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, salt and thyme. Use your stovetop or a grill to achieve a beautiful char on shrimp, salmon, tuna steaks, tilapia, cod, wild Alaska pollock, grouper, scallops, haddock and more!
Poached Seafood: For a tasty, tender bite, poaching is the way to go. Poach seafood in vegetable broth, white wine or coconut milk to infuse your meal with a savory essence. Try this style with salmon, tilapia, cod, haddock, rockfish, lobster, mussels or clams—for a meal that melts in your mouth. Bonus points for experimenting with unique flavor profiles by adding ingredients like lemongrass, garlic or ginger to your poaching liquid.
Grilled Seafood: In warmer weather, cooking outdoors is not only enjoyable, but it also gets you out in the sun where your body can absorb some beneficial vitamin D! Grilling seafood lends a fantastic smoky twang that requires no extra oil and your fish or shellfish is done within a matter of minutes.
Seafood and Cooking Times
To get fully comfortable with seafood home-cooking, knowing how long and at what temperature to cook each type is essential. To feel more confident cooking fish and seafood, check out these tips from our friends at Oldways.
Fish: A general rule of thumb is to cook fresh fish for about 10 minutes at 375 to 400°F for each inch of thickness. Wait until the inside reaches 145°F or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is no longer translucent. Don’t forget to flip it halfway through for even cooking!
Crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster): Boiling is the choice method for crustaceans. Lobsters need 17-20 minutes of boiling, shrimp around five minutes and crabs about 10. Look for a transition in color from blue to red and opaque meat to know it’s time to remove from heat.
Mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops): Boiling is the best way to ensure an even cook with mollusks too! Clams, mussels and oysters take around five minutes and are ready when their shells open. For scallops, look for a golden brown crust and slight breakage along the edges to know they’re perfect.
Canned or Pouched Seafood: Canned or pouched tuna, salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, crab and oysters don’t require cooking. These versatile options can be enjoyed as is, blended into a dip or spread, or added to dishes like pasta, pizza or salads.
If you’re craving more seafood inspiration, download our pescatarian-friendly e-cookbook to explore our 75+ original, no-fuss recipes perfect for any meal or occasion.