9 Seafood Hacks This Test Kitchen Chef Swears By
Here’s how to take your salmon, tuna, shrimp and more to the next level.
Preparing seafood can make even the most solid of cooks feel a little nervous. Even if it's a fish you've already cooked before, there’s a lot of factors to consider before tackling various seafood dishes. Never fear! As a recipe tester for Food Network Kitchen, I’ve cooked dozens upon dozens of delicious and unexpected seafood dishes; here are 9 tips and tricks I always keep in mind.
Before you head to the store, we aim to make make smart, sustainable fish choices whenever possible because it helps the environment globally. Visit Seafood Watch to learn about the best fish to buy.
Mayonnaise Keeps Fish From Drying Out
Broiled Halibut with Summer Herbs (pictured above)
Coating fish with mayonnaise might sound odd, but it’s far from a new technique. Not only does the mayonnaise season the halibut in this recipe, it adds a protective layer of fat to keep it from becoming dry as it cooks. If you decide to grill your halibut, it can also create a barrier to keep the fish from sticking to your grates. And, I promise, the heat totally transforms the flavor of the mayonnaise into something very subtle and rich, enhancing rather than overshadowing, the flavor of the halibut itself.
Piccata Doesn't Always Need Chicken; Use Scallops Instead
If you’re sick of chicken, you can still get your buttery, tangy and briny piccata fix with two different seafood options! Mild and flaky, catfish fillets really soak up the sauce and provide a more neutral background, while buttery-sweet scallops, like the ones pictured above, provide a great counterbalance of flavor.
Pressing Salmon Burgers into Panko Keeps Them from Sticking to a Hot Pan
Give beef or turkey a break with these easy salmon burgers. A combination of chopped and gently pureed salmon gives these burgers texture and structure, so they won’t fall apart. A quick press into panko before cooking your salmon burgers in a skillet also adds extra crunch and a barrier that makes flipping them an absolute breeze.
Cubing Salmon Saves Time and Prep Work
Breakfast for dinner? Winner winner! This recipe is a fun and delicious way to put a new spin on traditional meat and potatoes. Frozen cubed hash browns and bite-size pieces of salmon keep both the prep work and cooking time short. Sauteed peppers and onions also infuse it with familiar hash flavors, while a bit of arugula brightens the meal. One more bonus — this recipe also doubles as a great brunch or lunch option.
Curing Salmon One Day in Advance Locks in Extra Seasoning
When it’s really hot, this Hawaiian classic is a close second to a beach vacation. Plus, there's absolutely zero cooking involved! Curing the raw salmon a day in advance seasons and firms up the meat, so it stands up to juicy tomatoes and a bit of heat from fresh chiles and herbs. While traditionally the salmon is flaked and massaged with the other ingredients (lomi means “to massage”), this recipe just calls for a quick dice, which works too. It’s cool, refreshing and full of flavor. Often served as a side dish, there is no reason it can’t do double duty as a perfect light main dish.
The Best Way to Cook a Whole Fish Is to Pack It in Salt
If you've been wondering about how to cook a whole fish, this recipe is one of the best foolproof ways to try. Although, you will need salt — a lot of salt. Mixing salt and egg whites makes a wet sand-like mixture that you pack all over and under the fish until completely enclosed, leaving a tiny area to check the internal temperature. Then you just roast it! No flipping, no fussing! While it roasts, the crust not only adds a deep level of seasoning, it traps the steam, keeping the fish super moist — ensuring supple results even if it cooks a few extra minutes. Cracking the salt crust before serving is also a fun activity for kids and adults alike. And don’t forget the lemon-olive relish to add that fresh briny punch to your plate.
Canned Tuna Can Be a Secret Weapon
Don’t forget about canned fish for seafood meals either! These tuna tostadas rely on canned tuna, which means you can enjoy a seafood meal even on days when you couldn’t get to the store. The fish is gently warmed with pico de gallo, sweet raisins and green olives, and then spooned over limey-mayo coated tostada shells. It’s a truly transformative way to prepare a can of tuna! It might be an unusual combination for some, but every element adds a pop of flavor and texture and will be nothing like your go-to tuna salad.
Packing Shrimp in Foil with All Your Other Ingredients Takes Classic Scampi to the Next Level
Buttery, garlicky scampi is always a solid choice for dinner, but this version adds a twist to the classic preparation. Combining all the expected ingredients on a long sheet of foil and then wrapping and grilling is not only easy (no shrimp will fall through the grates), the foil pack traps all the juices from the shrimp, making an incredibly savory sauce. Spoon over pasta or just serve with crusty bread for dipping.
Frying Curry Paste in Coconut Cream Gives Mahi Mahi Deeper Flavor
If you are looking to widen your go-to flavor combinations, this recipe offers a great way to get Thai flavors into a perfect-for-summer or early fall meal. Lightly frying Thai curry paste in coconut cream toasts the spices and deepens the flavor. Then it’s slathered on mild mahi-mahi and broiled until charred and just cooked through. Served with crisp vegetables, a sprinkle of nuts, fresh herbs and a quick dressing with a bit of fish sauce, it comes together quickly and hits that sweet spot of being warm, cool, light and hearty.