Seafood might be intimidating, but in reality, if you have the right ingredients, it's easy to prepare. Chef Curtis Stone taught us this with his seafood guide for beginners. But there are as many ways to cook seafood as there are, well, fish in the sea. That's why we put together (and will be continuously update) the Pinterest board below, dedicated to seafood recipes and tips, outlining everything you would ever want to know from filleting a piece of trout to making perfect crab cakes.
To pick up where Stone left off, we talked to Top Chef personality Camille Becerra and "seafood purveyor to the stars" Louis Rozzo. Rozzo’s company, F. Rozzo & Sons, supplies seafood to The Carlyle, The '21' Club, and 400 other Manhattan restaurants, and Frank Sinatra famously used to have their seafood shipped to his home in Palm Springs. Below are their tips to taking your seafood know-how to the next level.
1. Look Your Fish in the Eyes
"The best indicator of a fresh fish," Becerra says, is in the eyes: "You want the eyes to be really clear. If they're cloudy, itrs a sign that the fish has been around for too long." She also says to take a look at the skin. It should be moist and fresh-looking, not at all crackly or slimy.
2. And Cook It Slowly
Since fish is so delicate, Becerra advises first-time fish home cooks to try a recipe that involves cooking the fish slowly. This way, you are less likely to overshoot the cooking time and dry out the flesh. Try a fish baked in a salt crust or wrapped in a papillote and thrown on the grill.
3. Pick a Lively Lobster
The freshest lobsters, Rozzo says, are hard-shelled and very lively. To search for quality, he says, "Pick it up. All the claws should be moving. All of the extremities should be moving. When you squeeze the body, your fingers should leave no indentations. It should be hard as a rock."
4. Boil Your Lobster the Same Day
If possible, you should cook your lobster the same day that you buy it. The best method is the tried and true one of tossing it into a pot of boiling water, although you also can’t really go wrong with grilling it. If you are doing it on your stove, A four to five gallon pot can handle about six to eight pounds of lobsters, but try not to cram more than two in there at a time so there’s room to cook. Put two inches of fresh seawater or salted water in the bottom of a large kettle. Set steaming rack inside the pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the live lobsters one at a time, cover pot, and start timing. It generally takes about 20 minutes for two to three pounds of lobster.
5. Make Sure Your Oysters Are Really Cold
When picking out oysters, Becerra looks for two things: "First of all, that they’re kept in ice and that they’re really cold. Secondly, that the shells aren’t cracked or slightly opened, because that is a sign that the oyster is dead and could potentially make you really sick.” If you’re choosing between different regional oysters, keep in mind that east coast oysters tend to be salty and briny, while west coast oysters tend to have a slightly sweet, creamy taste to them. You can shuck oysters with an oyster knife if you have one, but a screwdriver works too. It isn’t the hardest thing to learn, but any pro will tell you to practice a little before doing a lot of shucking since you are working with a sharp and pointed object as your tool.
6. Skip the Smelly Squid
To find the best-quality squid, Rozzo says to look for a squid that is gleaming white in color and odorless. After a few days out of water, a squid begins to take on a slightly fishy smell and a redish-brownish hue. To prepare the squid for cooking, remove the little hard piece of cartilage inside the head, cut the eyes out with a sharp knife, and scrape the skin off of the head.