SEAFOOD PREP MADE EASY
Want to eat more fish, but don’t know where to start? There are several methods for cooking seafood–most of them quick and easy–making it the perfect, heart-healthy protein for everyday dinners and lunches. We’ve compiled all you need to know: advice on preparing and cooking fish, important information on thawing and safe-handling, and how to tell when your fish is cooked to the proper temperature.
HOW TO POACH
- Season fish with salt and pepper.
- Heat poaching liquid over medium heat in a large nonstick pan until simmering (not a full rolling boil). Water should cover the fish by two-thirds.
- Gently slide fish into the broth.
- Cook until opaque and firm.
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes for smaller fillets, and 10-15 minutes for larger or whole fillets.
Insider’s Tip: The broth is where the fish gets most of it flavour. Try adding aromatics such as herbs, chilies, garlic, and/or sliced lemon to the liquid.
Which fish do I use? Best for meatier fish such as salmon.
HOW TO GRILL
- Preheat grill until hot. Clean thoroughly with a brush to prevent sticking.
- Generously rub fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush grill with oil.
- Place fish directly on grill, skin-side up. Close grill and allow to cook.
- After 3-4 minutes, check the fish. It should lift from the grill, have defined grill marks, and opaque through ¾ of the fillet. Flip.
- Cook another 3-4 minutes, or until opaque throughout.
- Remove from grill. Wait 2 minutes and serve.
Cook Time: For fish, approximately 6-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Standard rule of thumb: each inch of fish requires 3-4 minutes of cook time for each side.
Insider’s Tip: Using wooden skewers? Don’t forget to soak in cold water for 20 minutes before using. Wrap fish in foil after removing from grill to help retain moisture.
Which fish do I use? Best for thick, firm fish such as salmon. Also great for seafood skewers, whole fillets, and cedar-planked salmon.
HOW TO STEAM
- Put at least 2 inches (5 cm) of water in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Place a steamer basket or vegetable steamer above the water line inside the pot. Add fish or shrimp to steamer, and check that the steamer is elevated above the water.
- Cover, and cook until opaque throughout.
Cook Time: 4-8 minutes for thinner fillets, and 10-12 minutes for thicker fillets. For shrimp, cook until opaque – about 2-3 minutes.
Insider’s Tip: To prevent sticking, spray basket with cooking oil; or layer bok choy, cabbage, or lettuce on the base of the steamer before adding fish. For extra flavour, add aromatics to the top of the seafood such as citrus, herbs, chilies, and spices.
Did you know? The white protein that is pushed out of salmon during cooking is called albumin. This is natural and to be expected. Soak salmon in salt water for 10 minutes prior to cooking to decrease the amount of albumin and pre-season the fish.
Which fish do I use? Any fish or shrimp.
HOW TO STEAM MUSSELS
- Place medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid on stovetop. Remove lid.
- Add frozen mussels to saucepan, breaking apart any large clumps. If desired, add vegetables and a tablespoon of butter or oil. Small-diced vegetables, less than 1 inch in size, are ideal.
- Pour approximately 1/2 cup (115 mL) of desired liquid (water, broth, and/or wine) over mussels and vegetables. Turn heat to medium-high and immediately cover pan with tight-fitting lid. Steam mussels; gently shaking pan to evenly distribute contents.
- Remove lid after approximately 10 minutes. For fresh mussels, steam for approximately 5 minutes. Mussels are cooked when nearly all are open; discard any that remain closed.
- Serve mussels directly from pan or pour into serving bowls.
Insider’s Tip: Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread.
HOW TO ROAST OR BAKE
Roast vs. Bake: To ‘roast’ means the food is being cooked by the heating element at the top of the oven, and to ‘bake’ means the food is being cooked by the heating element at the bottom of the oven. Many contemporary ovens differentiate between roasting and baking.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). For convection ovens, preheat oven to 365°F (185°C).
- Marinate or season fish, and drizzle with oil.
- Lightly grease or spray a 13” x 9” foil lined baking dish brushed with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
- Place fish in baking dish skin-side down and bake uncovered until opaque throughout.
- Cover with foil and wait 2 minutes before serving.
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes for thinner fillets, 15-20 minutes for thicker fillets and whole fish.
Insider’s Tip: Roasting works best for large fillets and items you would like to nicely brown on the surface. Baking is better suited for items such as fish sticks and casseroles.
Which fish do I use? Whole fillets, or portioned fillets such as salmon, cod, halibut, or haddock.
HOW TO SAUTÉ
- Warm oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pat seafood dry with paper towels, and season.
- When the oil is hot, add fish to the pan.
- Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes without moving it. When golden brown, flip. Cook until opaque throughout.
Cook Time: 4-6 minutes total for thinner fillets, 8-10 minutes for thicker fillets. Shrimp usually need about 2 minutes each side, or until fully opaque.
Insider’s Tip: If sautéing salmon with the skin on, always make sure the skin is very dry and always place the fish in the pan skin-side down. If sautéing shrimp, remove from heat just before cooked and cover with foil. Allow shrimp to continue cooking in foil until fully opaque.
Which fish do I use? Sautéing is great for most types of seafood. Best for salmon, shrimp, and firmer fish.
WHEN IS YOUR FISH DONE?
For best results, look for these visual cues:
- Fish should be opaque throughout, and easily flaked under pressure with a fork.
- Salmon should be flaky and opaque throughout. Salmon can be cooked to medium-rare.
- Shrimp, lobster, and crab should be pearly and pink, with the inner flesh white and opaque.
- Clams, oysters, and mussels should be fully opened. Discard any shellfish that do not open when cooked.
- Scallops should be milky white, opaque and have firmed up slightly.
Insider’s Tip: Remove fish from the oven a couple minutes early; cover with foil, and let steam. Your fish will continue to cook after removing from cooking source. Check centre of fish after 3 minutes; it should be easily flaked with a fork under pressure, and be opaque throughout. If it is still translucent in the centre, pop it back in the oven for a couple minutes longer and then check it again.
Note: Canadian regulation recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 158°F (70°C) and shellfish to 165°F (74°C). FDA recommends that fish be cooked to an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC). Use an instant-read thermometer at the thickest point. It is recommended that pregnant women should not consume raw or undercooked seafood.
SAFE HANDLING TIPS
- Fresh fish and seafood must be consumed within 2-3 days of purchase for optimal flavour and texture.
- To keep fresh seafood longer, fresh fillets can be frozen right after purchasing.
- For best results, wrap in parchment, place in a resealable plastic bag, press air out completely, and seal. To encourage rapid freezing and help preserve the texture, lay fish flat in freezer. Consume within 3 months.
- Always wash all surfaces and tools that come into contact with raw seafood.
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after seafood preparation.
Tip: Wear gloves during seafood preparation for easy clean up. Wash hands and tools frequently after coming into contact to prevent cross-contamination.
THAWING & DEFROSTING
- For best results, thaw fish or shrimp overnight in the refrigerator. If you are in a hurry, you can immerse vacuum-sealed fish or shrimp in cool water for half an hour before cooking. Consume within 2-3 days.
- Packaged frozen smoked salmon should be pierced and thawed the night prior by leaving in the refrigerator.
- Refreezing seafood products degrades flavour and texture.
- Do not defrost mussels. Frozen mussels are best prepared straight from freezer to cooking source.