The seafood counter can be intimidating. Most people scan the case, looking over different filets and shellfish, wondering how they taste, how fresh they are, and of course, the best way to prepare them. Ironically, most seafood is very easy to prepare, especially on the grill. Last year I wrote about all of the reasons why you should grill some fish this Father’s Day. This year I want to help you select the right fish at the seafood counter.
It’s important to know a bit about different fish so that you can make a confident choice at the market. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch allows you to search different types of fish to identify the best choices for the environment or you can visit the Environmental Defense Fund for a list of both eco-friendly and healthy (low mercury, for example) choices. Lastly, just to ensure that you purchase, cook and store your seafood safely, check out this resource from the FDA.
A few terms you may come across…
Frozen At Sea: You will likely see “FAS” at your seafood counter, which means that the seafood was frozen at sea to preserve freshness and quality and then defrosted in the seafood case. Most fish are frozen at sea so it’s common to FAS written on signs on at the seafood counter.
Farm raised: Farm raised fish refers to fish that are raised in oceans, lakes and rivers. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 40% of the salmon caught in Alaska and 80-90% in the Pacific Northwest are farm raised. Advancements in farming technology have improved the way that farm raised fish are harvested and how they interact with our environment. As our need for farmed fish increases, due to limited access to wild caught seafood, advances in aquaculture will continue to increase as well.
Wild caught: Wild caught fish are caught using lines, traps, divers and other devices that allow seafood to be caught in the wild. While many consider wild caught to be “healthier” than farmed fish, it’s important to recognize that wild fish are exposed to more mercury and other negative attributes of the sea (such as pollutants).
Before you grill great fish for Dad…
- Remember that a clean, hot, well-oiled grill is a must when cooking fish.
- Use a grilling pan to make the job easier if cooking directly on grill grates is intimidating.
- Consider skewering smaller seafood like shrimp, or place fish in foil packets.
- Cooking times vary depending on the thickness and type of seafood you are cooking, with all seafood cooking quicker than steak or chicken.