Fresh-caught fish and seafood aren’t just for summer vacation on the seashore. You should strive to eat it regularly year-round, as it’s packed with many important nutrients—especially brain- and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
So, today, let’s go over some shopping tips to help you keep seafood on the menu more often. I’ll even share with you two of my favorite seafood recipes that are perfect for summertime!
Even if you don’t live on the coast, you can still enjoy great seafood
We spend most of our summers in Gloucester, MA…a quaint, little coastal town that’s surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic ocean. In fact, it’s been the center of the American fishing and maritime industry since the early 1600s. And you can bet the seafood there is as fresh as it gets.
Of course, today, you can easily find a wide variety of shellfish—including clams, scallops, and shrimp—as well as many different kinds of fish at just about any grocery store around the country…not just along the coast.
And we should thank Clarence Birdseye, who was also from Gloucester, for helping to increase access to fish and seafood…
Flash-freezing preserves the nutrients
About 100 years ago, Mr. Birdseye developed a method of flash-freezing the fish and seafood that the fishermen brought into Gloucester harbor every day. (Eventually, that same flash-freezing process came to be used on a variety of other foods, including vegetables and berries.)
The process allowed small, local fishermen to sell and ship their bounty around the country. And it even allowed people to enjoy the many health benefits of eating seafood regularly, even if they didn’t live on the coast.
So, today, unless you can buy your fish or seafood straight off the docks, as my mother did when I was growing up (and we often do today in the summer), buying it frozen is a great option, as flash-freezing actually preserves the nutrient content and flavor.
In fact, even most of “fresh” fish and seafood displayed on ice inside your grocery store’s seafood cases were probably flash-frozen at some point along the way. Which is why you should buy frozen fish and seafood from the grocery store, unless you’re cooking it that night. (Plus, frozen fish and seafood costs a bit less.)
If you do buy fresh fish or seafood, just make sure that it doesn’t actually smell “fishy.” That fishy smell is a sign that the rich nitrogen sources of amino acids, nucleic acids, and proteins in the fish have begun to break down. In addition, live clams and oysters should have closed, not open, shells. If they’re open, give them a tap. If they don’t close, do not buy them, or just discard.
Meanwhile, you should look for dry-packed sea scallops (not “bay” scallops) sized U/10 or U/15. And shrimp are sized according to the number of shrimp in one pound. So, a smaller number of shrimp in a pound means bigger shrimp.
I always recommend buying bigger shrimp when it’s on sale—but with heads off, so you don’t pay for the inedible portion. Plus, the shrimp will keep fresh longer without the head. (Remember, “fish rot from the head down.”)
I also recommend getting to know the people who work behind the seafood counter and asking questions. I find they always welcome the conversation. Plus, they’ll prep your fish the way you like it—as well as perform any cleaning. (The fish, on the other hand, are not so conversational. There’s actually an old Italian saying, “muto come un baccalà,” which means “silent as a codfish.” You may have heard it in connection with the mafia code of omertà, when people literally “clam up.”)
Now, let’s move on to two of my favorite seafood recipes, which are the perfect addition to any summertime beach or backyard cookout…
Classic New England Seafood Boil
Yields 8 Servings
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 bulbs of garlic, cut in half, horizontally
- 1 large white onion, quartered
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 4 ears of corn, cut into thirds (Try to find organic varieties, since most corn grown today in the U.S. is genetically modified.)
- 3 yellow squash, cubed
- 3 cups, lima beans
- 1 lb. shrimp, unpeeled
- 1 lb. clams
- 3 petite lobster tails
Note: Don’t peel the shrimp or de-shell any seafood before cooking. Shells deepen the flavor and the colors with concentrated carotenoids.
- In a large stockpot, bring water, wine, garlic, onions, lemon, and paprika to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium. Add corn and other vegetables of your choice. I recommend cubed squash and beans (the other two siblings of New England native Americans’ “three sisters,” together with corn, known as succotash).
- Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in assorted clams, Maine crabs or lobsters, and other seafood in the shells.
- Cover with a lid and steam for 5 to 8 minutes until shrimp are pink and fully cooked, lobster shells turn bright red, and clam shells open.
- Season to taste, as needed.
- When ready, strain the broth and spread food onto parchment paper or newspaper. (With most of today’s “news,” that’s about all the paper’s good for anymore.)
- Provide individual bowls to discard shells for easier après-boil bowl clean-up.
Healthy Fish and Chips
Yields 4 servings
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, cubed
- 4 – 4 oz. fresh or thawed frozen whitefish fillets
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups crushed gluten-free bread crumbs (Aleia’s Gluten Free Foods)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp. water
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup plain, sugar-free yogurt
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 3 cups shredded coleslaw (no dressing)
- Arrange oven rack to top third of the oven. Place baking sheet on rack to preheat. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a shallow dish, combine egg and one tbsp. of water.
- In a second shallow dish, combine crushed bread crumbs, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Dip fish in egg mixture, then in breading, turning over to coat filets entirely.
- In a 10-inch oven skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil.
- Add fish and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
- In medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and toss with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Spread in an even layer on preheated baking sheet and place in oven’s lower rack. Bake until golden and crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes—flipping it over halfway through baking.
- Combine the other shredded coleslaw, lime juice, green onions, and yogurt for side slaw, cover and keep chilled.
Of course, unless you eat fatty fish or seafood at every meal, every day, you probably still don’t get the optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids that you need to protect your heart and brain. That’s why I always recommend a daily fish oil supplement.
You can learn exactly what dose of fish oil you should take daily—as well as how to choose a quality supplement—in the June 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Why I’m upping my recommendations for this ‘controversial’ supplement”). Don’t have a newsletter subscription? No worries—it just takes one click!