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How to Prepare Seafood–Cooking Tips

“Line-caught salmon, nothing less than the best!!! Grilled it plain, seemed like it just came out of the Sea.” –Barbara, Bainbridge Island, WA

When working with premium-quality seafood, use minimal seasonings. Let the fish’s natural flavors stand out. Aim for medium-rare to medium (between 125° F and 140° F if you have an instant-read thermometer). Don’t overcook. The fish should be cooked until it is almost opaque throughout but still moist. We offer these basic tips to help you get started.

What is different about cooking fish versus other meats is that fish cooks faster than other meats. All fish can dry out quickly and its delicious moist flavor is lost if too dry.

Remember: Fish continues to cook after removed from the heat source.

The easiest way to cook our fish is simply. All of us in the office and just about all of the fishermen in our fishermen-owned co-op keep it real simple by rubbing the fish lightly with a little olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper. Some will add garlic or some other herb, or a simple flavored salt. There is no need to do anything more than that to enjoy our Alaska Gold Seafood.

Below we offer a few tips on several other cooking methods.

Cedar plank salmon
Cedar plank salmon.

Seafood Preparation/Thawing tips: When you’re ready to cook, take the number of vacuum-sealed portions you’d like to eat out of the freezer. You can use one at a time, or more as needed. These vacuum-sealed packs are very convenient for one person or cooking for the whole family. Thaw under refrigeration for 24 hours. It is recommended to break the vacuum seal before thawing. Before mealtime, take the portion(s) out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Use scissors to take the fish portion(s) out of  the vacuum-sealed pack(s). Wipe the fish down with a paper towel. In a pinch, you can thaw your portions by running them under cold water. You will lose a bit of quality, as you ideally want the fish to thaw as slow as possible, which is why we  recommend thawing under refrigeration. It is best to use the thawed fish within 24 hours after it thaws.

Sashimi: We recommend NOT cooking our sashimi-grade albacore tuna and serving the tuna raw as sashimi or poke. You can also sear on each side for 2 minutes or less, but the albacore is outstanding as sashimi. When serving sashimi, cut to desired thickness while still partially frozen.

Seafood Grilling Tips: Oil the grill once it heats up. Just as it is with any other meat, you can prevent sticking by making sure that the fish is dried with a paper towel, lightly oiled, and perhaps most important, ensuring the grill is as hot as possible. Once the fish is on the grill, turn the grill down to medium heat (~300-350° F). Another note if you have trouble overcooking in your grill: Grill marks look great in pictures, but one way to prevent your fish from drying out is to wrap it in tin foil or some other heat-resistant covering. Some call this “making a tent” for the fish. The French call this method “en papillote,” but we call it “making a tent.” This can be done when baking in an oven, too. But in an oven you can use parchment paper, whereas in a grill there can be a fire danger with hot coals or any flame. Another way is to use a cedar or alder plank. See this cedar plank salmon recipe.  Cook until just opaque throughout.

Seafood Baking Tips: Baking seafood is really easy! Preheat oven to 400° F. Place seasoned fish in baking dish and cook for 8 to 10 minutes up to 20 minutes depending on thickness of fillet or portion and/or quantity of portions used. Remove fish when it begins to flake easily. We’ve found that cooking our sablefish works best at higher temperatures. Bake at 450° F for 9-10 minutes. It is difficult to overcook sablefish, because it is so loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

Slow Oven Roasting Seafood Tips: Some find that slow roasting salmon is a foolproof method. It makes sense to slow roast larger pieces like our coho salmon fillets (sides). Preheat oven to 250° F. Place seasoned fish in roasting dish on center rack for 20 minutes. Look for it to be opaque throughout. And then pull the fillet from the oven. The nice thing about slow roasting is that slow roasting is more forgiving and won’t cook as much after removing.

Poached Salmon
Sake-poached salmon. Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood

Poaching Seafood Tips: Poaching salmon, particularly our coho salmon portions or keta salmon portions, is a popular option. In a large, deep, straight-sided skillet or heavy pot, heat enough water to just cover the salmon. You can also use broth or a combination of vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, lemon, a splash of white wine, and several pinches of salt (there are many other options for flavoring). Bring the water or broth combination to a boil. Add salmon portions seasoned with salt and gently lower into pot. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 5-8 minutes. *The key is to cook the salmon just under boiling, a very slow simmer. The salmon is done when opaque throughout. Use spatula to remove.

Pan-searing and Sautéeing Seafood Tips: Pan-searing salmon is easy and quick. Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan. Here’s how to pan-fry and sauté without the sticky mess and oil spatters. Dry your fish as much as possible with a paper towel. Use just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The easiest way to avoid sticking is to make sure the fish is at room temperature. After thawing, let the fish sit on your kitchen counter for 20 minutes or so. Cook at a medium-high heat and make sure the pan is HOT before you add fish (way too hot to touch). Time: use the 8-minute rule! For every inch cook for 8 minutes flipping half way through. Remove immediately. You will know that you are searing right if you see the beginnings of a light brown crust. See our pan-seared halibut recipe.

Seafood Leftovers: We hope that you don’t have leftovers, but if you get our larger coho salmon fillets, you might have enough for a second meal. Seafood, especially salmon, does not benefit from being reheated. If not reheated very carefully, fish can get a rancid flavor. Not to worry, that being said, we love making salads with leftover salmon. Another option is to throw leftover salmon onto eggs once the eggs have cooked for a little while. This will make a delicious, nutritious protein-packed breakfast!

pan-seared halibut
Pan-seared halibut

Also, check out these recipes and seafood preparation tips from our customers.

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Seafood Grilling Tips

Grill salmon
Cedar Plank Salmon with Alaska Gold coho salmon filet

Here are some Seafood Grilling Tips that will help you cook our fish better.

1) Before preparing seafood, don’t forget to pat it down with a paper towel, an often overlooked and underestimated step.

2) Don’t overcook your fish. Remember that your fish keeps on cooking after you have removed it from the heat, so pull it earlier than you think.

3) Grill marks look cool in photos. But if you don’t want your fish to dry out, wrap your fish in aluminum foil when grilling. This will keep it moist.

Another option for grilling salmon and other seafood is to use a wood plank. Cedar adds a pleasant aroma to salmon. If you’re cooking in the bush, grab some alder, which is usually plentiful by rivers and lakes. You can purchase a cedar plank in most cooking utensil stores. Or, take a walk!

Lastly, work with quality seafood, like that from Alaska Gold Seafood, where you can find fish caught by Seafood Producers Cooperative members, who catch fish on hook and line producing fish of outstanding quality. Minimal seasoning required, tastes like the sea. Check out our seafood recipes page for more seafood grilling tips.