Happy #SeafoodSunday, Seafoodies!
Most days you’ll find us hunting for and testing the best seafood recipes out there (as well as devouring the delicious results, of course). We’re also passionate about arming you with tools of the trade: foolproof cooking techniques that will serve you well whether you have a great recipe or not. Today, we wanted to share three tried-and-true cooking methods that all self-respecting home chefs should have in their repertoire. All follow the KISS rule (Keep it Simple, Seafoodies!) and will help you prepare seafood with a minimum of hands-on time. So, go ahead: Give these low-fuss, can’t-fail options a whirl, and see how they make home cooking infinitely less complicated.
Method 1: Poaching
Poaching is a simple cooking technique that results in tender fish infused with flavor. And if you’ve resolved to eat better this year, you’ll be happy to know it’s also a healthy technique, since no added fats are needed, unlike when you’re frying or sautéing.
You start by selecting some fresh or frozen fish steaks, whole fish or shellfish, which are more likely to hold together than delicate fillets. Then, simmer some poaching liquid. The traditional court bouillon is a mix of water, wine, herbs and aromatic vegetables like onions, celery and carrots, but you can let your creativity run wild here—sub in some broth, juice, coconut milk and whatever seasonings you enjoy. Cook the fish in a large pot with enough poaching liquid to cover. To avoid overcooking, maintain a liquid temperature of 140 F—an instant-read thermometer comes in handy—and be sure the liquid doesn’t boil or even simmer (a few bubbles are OK). Poach until the fish is opaque and flakes with a fork, about 10 minutes for an average fish steak. You can serve immediately or chill for later. Hot or cold, poached fish has a subtle flavor that is nicely complemented by a low-fat herb and tomato purée, a dollop of Greek yogurt mixed with fresh lemon and dill, or your whatever sauce floats your boat!
Another easy way to poach fish: Set it and forget it! That’s right, you can simply set your slow cooker to low, add some fish and walk away. Let the poaching liquid simmer for about a half-hour before adding the seafood. This method takes a little longer than its stovetop counterpart, but the results are just as moist and flavorful. Here’s a poached salmon recipe that walks you through the technique. It’s a must-try!
Method 2: Air Frying
If you’re looking for healthy eats, countertop convenience and easy cleanup, the air fryer (a.k.a. mini convection oven) is tough to beat! We love that we can cook our fried seafood favorites at home, enjoying golden-brown and relatively guilt-free fried calamari, crab cakes and tempura shrimp in just a few minutes. Just preheat the air fryer, dredge your seafood in a light, dry coating and mist it with olive oil before “frying.” In addition to seriously bringing on the crunch, the air fryer can quickly reheat foods like seafood pizza, keeping them crispier than the microwave would.
One key component to air frying is the air itself. It’s important to preheat the fryer for a few minutes to ensure the air is hot, avoid overcrowding food in the basket—cook in batches to recreate that crunchy texture you crave!—and leave sufficient airflow around the appliance itself. Follow these tips, and you’ll be golden! Well, your seafood will be, anyway.
If all this talk about air frying has your mouth watering, here’s a recipe for Air Fryer Thai Coconut Shrimp that should set things right.
Method 3: Pantry-Raiding
We know what you’re thinking, Seafoodies: Kitchen foraging isn’t a cooking technique per se. But as we always say, keeping some pantry staples on hand is a smart strategy! Whether you’re trying to whip up a quick appetizer, add some protein to your salad or sandwich or just beat the heat during the warmer months, shelf-stable seafood will always rise to the occasion. (It’s also your best winter-weather friend, keeping you from having to venture out into the cold to buy groceries.) Our mantra: Stock your pantry well! You’ve probably enjoyed some canned tuna in a salad or cheesy melt, but there’s a vast ocean of canned and pouched seafood out there—weeknight workhorses and delicacies alike.
From anchovies and clams to salmon and smoked trout, shelf-stable seafood is just the thing when you don’t have the time or inclination to cook from scratch. And since it’s pre-cooked, it’s also our number-one suggestion for getting the 2 to 3 servings of seafood a week recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For starters, try our recipe for Spicy Rice Rolls with Tuna, and check out more of our tips for cooking with shelf-stable seafood.