I find it interesting that so often, during my initial complimentary meeting, a new potential client does not like seafood – at all. The world’s oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain an incredible and diverse array of food sources that are plentiful, delicious and above all, nutritious. Why all the dislike of the “fruits de mer” (fruits of the sea)? To understand this phenomenon, I suppose I don’t have to look any further than my own childhood. When I was young, seafood consisted of frozen flounder packaged in a rectangular box. My mother tried her best, but it was always under seasoned and overcooked – not a good culinary experience. I realized my mother, probably like many others, did not have access to good seafood and did not know how to cook it. Even many restaurants do not know how to properly prepare seafood, thus exacerbating the issue.
Fortunately, seafood is Gourmet Your Way’s specialty! I have made many reluctant converts to the “fruits de mer”. Here are a few tips to getting good quality seafood at your local supermarket.
(1) Try to buy fresh seafood. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to walk to the pier and get the catch of the day right off the boat. Most aren’t. Look for seafood that is labeled “not previously frozen”. This means it’s fresh.
(2) Make sure the seafood doesn’t stink or have an ammonia smell. If it smells bad, it will taste bad. The fish should not be slimy to the touch.
(3) Many people have a favorite fish that may not be available. Find a good substitute. I have to do this frequently when cooking for my clients. Look for fish of a similar look and consistency.
So, you bought your favorite seafood – fresh! What now? The most important thing in seafood preparation is to avoid OVERCOOKING it. All the careful work you’ve done at the supermarket will be undone if the result is dry and rubbery. This takes a bit of practice and trust in yourself. Fish should be moist and flakey. The level of seasoning is somewhat of a personal decision. Heavier seafood like salmon can accommodate heavier spices. A light, delicate fish like tilapia only needs a little bit of spice. Remember that you want to taste the fish, so don’t overdo the seasoning.
Not sure how long you should cook a piece of fish? Try the 10-minute rule of thumb.
(1) Measure the fish at its thickest point. If the fish is stuffed or rolled, measure it after stuffing or rolling.
(2) Cook fish about 10 minutes per inch, turning it halfway through the cooking time. For example, a 1-inch fish steak should be cooked 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. Pieces less than 1/2 inch thick do not have to be turned over. Test for doneness. Flake with a fork. Fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
(3) Add 5 minutes to the total cooking time for fish cooked in foil or in sauce.
(4) Double the cooking time for frozen fish that has not been defrosted. Use this rule as a general guideline since fillets often don’t have uniform thickness.
Of course, the convenient and easy way to get delicious, fresh seafood is to let Gourmet Your Way Personal Chef Service to do all the work for you.