At Dish on Fish, we like to stay on top of the latest food trends. A 2021 trend for home chefs we are whole-heartedly adopting is using alternative oils to add good fat and fantastic flavor to seafood. Alternative oils include everything from infused olive oils to nut or seed oils like flax seed, sesame, walnut, hemp and avocado.
Healthful fats, like oils, help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E and K), support the immune system and protect the heart. It is important to note that all fats, however, are not created equal. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting saturated fats (like those found in beef and pork) and focusing on unsaturated fats like those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados as part of a healthy diet.
We’re huge fans of the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates unsaturated fats, as well as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean proteins like seafood. Studies show this way of eating helps support a healthy heart, brain and eyes, protect against chronic diseases, promote a strong immune system and contribute to a longer life.
Some of these healthful unsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA. Seafood–especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and oysters–are particularly rich in polyunsaturated omega-3s. Pairing seafood with alternative oils can supercharge the taste and health of meals. Here are a few oils that we think work especially well with seafood.
- Extra virgin olive oil is the Seafoodie’s gold standard—a versatile kitchen workhorse and a must-have pantry staple! Its taste ranges from slightly bitter to fruity. Stock your pantry with olive oil infused with flavors such as chili, basil, garlic or rosemary. For high-heat cooking, such as roasted chili-lime cod, be sure to choose a lighter, refined olive oil. Unrefined extra virgin olive oil—a.k.a. EVOO— has a lower smoke point, so save it for seafood salad.
- Avocado oil is just as luscious as the fruit it’s derived from. And, it has a fresh, clean flavor that plays nicely with just about any seafood dish. With one of the highest smoke points of any oil, it’s an excellent choice for grilled or pan-seared fish.
- Grapeseed oil is the Switzerland of oil flavors—neutral! Since it doesn’t taste like much, it pairs with just about anything you can dish out. And it can really take the heat, so consider it for all of your seafood sautéing needs. Keep some in a spritz bottle to use with your Air Fryer!
- Peanut oil has a mild nutty flavor and a higher smoke point than olive oil. It’s the traditional go-to for deep frying because it can handle the higher cooking temps that keep food moist inside and crispy outside. We also love it in a shrimp stir-fry.
- Sesame oil has a slightly sweet, nutty taste that’s even more pronounced in the darker, toasted version. Its high smoke point makes it ideal for searing scallops. Use in any Asian-inspired recipe, or whenever you want to balance bolder flavors.
- Walnut oil has a distinctive, nutty flavor that complements seafood nicely, particularly if your dish has walnuts in it. Try drizzling it over walnut-crusted salmon or misting it on grilled fish just before serving. Since walnut oil becomes bitter when heated, it’s best left uncooked.
Part of our mission at Dish on Fish is to inspire you with delicious ideas for how to eat more fish. Join us as we share more benefits of eating seafood, as well as tips, tricks and recipes. In the meantime, download the Dish on Fish free e-cookbook – and start planning the next three seafood meals to enjoy this week!