Sustainable Seafood: 3 Expert Tips! cover

Sustainable Seafood: 3 Expert Tips!


Despite the multitude of health benefits of eating more seafood, Americans only eat 44 percent of the recommended amount of seafood, and less than 40 percent of it is eaten in the home. We'll help you pick sustainable choices, and even share some recipe tips to cook it yourself!

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Sustainable Seafood: 3 Expert Tips!

A Favorable Meal

Despite the multitude of health benefits of eating more seafood, Americans only eat 44 percent of the recommended amount of seafood, and less than 40 percent of it is eaten in the home.

So why are we not cooking enough seafood at home?

Most people claim to avoid cooking fish because they don’t know how. It is true that fish is more delicate than meat, but cooking it can also be faster and require fewer ingredients to create a healthy and flavorful meal.

Responsible Sources

The Aquarium of the Pacific, through its sustainable seafood program, Seafood for the Future (SFF), is asking consumers to become part of the solution to ensure that we have access to healthy seafood from environmentally responsible sources.

A balanced supply of seafood from well-managed wild-capture fisheries and environmentally responsible aquaculture sources is essential for the health of the fish, our planet, and people.

Tips to Select Sustainable Seafood


Tips to Select Sustainable Seafood

Here are some general guidelines provided by SFF:

1. Buy U.S. Seafood

U.S. seafood is among the best-managed in the world.

Buying local supports environmentally responsible harvesting and farming practices and local coastal communities. It also reduces the risk of seafood fraud, as it is much easier to trace local seafood products.

2. Look for Certified Seafood Products

Can’t find a U.S. product to meet your needs?

Look for certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and Best Aquaculture Practices. These certifications are meant to make responsible purchasing easier, but keep in mind that they do not cover all seafood. Just because something isn’t certified, it doesn’t mean it is not a responsible seafood choice.

Seafood for the Future

Support businesses working with seafood advisory programs like Seafood for the Future.

There are many businesses and restaurants working with Seafood for the Future and programs like it to improve the seafood supply chain on multiple levels.

Go to for a complete list of program partners and more information on responsible seafood choices.

More Helpful Tips

How much fish to buy:

An average serving of fish is about 6 ounces. Here is an estimated purchasing guide:

• Whole or round fish: 1-1/2 pounds per person

• Dressed or cleaned fish: 1 pound per person

• Fillets and steaks: 1/3 pound per person (or 6 ounces)

Cook or Freeze?


Cook or Freeze?

When should you cook it after buying?

If fresh, use it the same day or freeze within two days.

If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse in cold water, drain, and pat dry.

Preparation Tips

It is good to experiment with marinades, but know that good quality fish just needs a dash of salt and pepper for a great tasting dish.

There are plenty of marinades that you can experiment with when cooking fish — salmon can be great with soy sauce or honey, and olive oil and lemon work nicely on whitefish. But ultimately, great fish tastes best when you let the flavors of the actual fish, and not the marinade, shine.

Cooking Tips

Make sure your fish is as dry as possible before cooking. Whatever method of cooking you decide to use, dry off your fish before cooking.

This is essential for frying or pan-frying fish because excess moisture will cool down hot oil. Use a dry paper towel to pat down your fish fillet or steak before cooking.

Thaw your fish before cooking. Frozen fish can be a nice alternative to fresh fish. It should thaw in the refrigerator for a day before cooking. For best results, pat the thawed fish down to remove excess moisture before cooking. If you decide not to thaw your fish, you can bake it frozen, however you will need to double the normal cooking time for your recipe.

Healthful Ingredients

Healthful Ingredients


Best Ways to Cook Fish

Here are some tips for home chefs at all levels to successfully cook healthy and delicious fish:

1. Bake: Baking can be a very healthy cooking option because it relies on dry heat and less oil to thoroughly cook. For thick (center cut) fish, many chefs recommend cooking uncovered at 400°F for 15 minutes, although cooking times depend on the thickness of the cut (see below: 10 minutes per inch).

2. Sauté or pan fry: These techniques result in fish that is crisply tender. Fish fillets, shrimp, scallops, and firm fish strips are best suited for this. When pan frying, make sure the oil is hot before putting the fish on, and flip once and only once at the end! When the fish has a nice golden brown color on the edge, turn it over. At this point it should be 70 percent cooked through, and only needs a couple of minutes on the second side. Here are some videos to show you how easy it is to pan sear and pan fry fish.

Best Ways to Cook Fish

3. Pan broil: This is best for thicker cuts, at least 1 inch thick so the fish doesn’t become too dry during broiling. Broil fish about 8 minutes per inch of thickness with the oven door slightly ajar, and make sure to baste fish before and frequently during cooking.

4. Microwave: You can cook fish in a microwave if the fish is a boneless fillet or steak. This will require you to cover the fish with plastic wrap with a few vent holes on a microwave-safe dish and cook for 3 minutes per pound, turning over once during cooking.

Best Ways to Cook Fish

5. Grill: This technique is more successful for thicker, meatier cuts of fish, and is great in the summer. Make sure to use a clean, oiled, and closely spaced grill grate. Cook the fish for 4 to 6 minutes on each side (per inch of thickness) over medium to medium‑high heat or until done.

6. Poach: Most fish can be poached, or gently cooked in heated liquid, such as wine, water, fish stock, or milk. The fish cooks thoroughly by being submerged in a hot or simmering (but not boiling) liquid inside a covered pan. Cook fillets in liquid at a temperature of 160° to 180°F for 8 to 10 minutes and whole fish 15 to 20 minutes.

Best Ways to Cook Fish


Best Ways to Cook Fish

7. Deep fry: Although less healthy than poaching or baking, frying fish is always a very popular treat. Fish 1/2‑inch thick is ideal for this method. Heat enough vegetable or canola oil to 350°F to 375°F. You will need to monitor the oil temperature with a thermometer to ensure proper cooking. Cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned.

Pick the Right Fish

Does the cooking method depend on the fish?

Yes, some types of fish do better with some forms of preparation than others. The number of fish species available can be overwhelming, but they generally fall into 3 basic texture profiles. Once you master how to cook based on texture, you can be more adventurous and tackle the latest in-season catch with confidence—even if you’ve never heard of it. (When is the last time you had Kellet’s whelk?) Each of these varieties has different nutritional properties and may be better suited for one cooking method over another.

Pick the Right Fish

Here’s a guide to get you started:

• White fish – fish similar to cod, sole, haddock, and halibut have translucent skin that turns an opalescent white when cooked. These fish are often poached, pan seared/sautéed, steamed, baked, or battered and fried

• Oily fish – fish similar to salmon, trout, and sardines are oilier than the other varieties, and are often grilled, pan seared/sautéed, baked, or steamed.

Pick Sustainable Seafood

Pick Sustainable Seafood


Pick the Right Fish

• Shellfish – shellfish like scallops, mussels, oysters, and shrimp are either crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster), or mollusks (oysters). These are often steamed, battered and fried, and baked.

Also keep in mind the difference between fat and lean fish when preparing. Fat fish tend to have a stronger flavor than lean fish, so the flavor of the fish may be masked if a lean fish is substituted in a recipe. Lean fish tend to have a firmer texture, making them a great option for recipes such as soups, stews, or chowders.

When is it Done?

The most common mistake people make when cooking fish is overcooking it.

Resist the temptation to overcook fish! If the fish is super flakey, it could be becoming dry and less palatable. Fish is done when the color turns from translucent to opaque and feels firm, but is still moist and just ready to flake. If you remove fish from the heating source just before it becomes translucent all the way through, it will keep its moisture and remain tender.

Be sure that the internal temperature has reached 140°F to 145°F.

The 10-Minute Rule

Timing is very important for cooking seafood to ensure it is still moist and maintains a delicate flavor.

There is a “10-minute rule” to guide you: Cook fish 10 minutes per inch at its thickest point at 400°F to 450°F, turning it over halfway through the cooking time. Add 5 minutes to the total cooking time if you are cooking the fish in foil or if it is cooking in a sauce. Double the cooking time for frozen fish that is not thawed.

And don’t forget the 4 key elements of a simple and balanced cuisine: crunch, acid, herbs, and salt.

Learn more at the Aquarium of the Pacific