Who doesn’t love seafood? Various fish like dory, salmon, and snapper; shellfish such as mussels, clams,
and scallops; and even shrimp, squid, octopus, and many others are a great alternative source of protein
and other vitamins and minerals. Seafood is also used in a variety of ways in different cuisines, so tasting
or cooking a new seafood recipe is always a thrilling prospect for foodies everywhere.
However, seafood is one of the most perishable raw food items, and it requires careful handling and
storing so that it can be enjoyed properly. Seafood is always best consumed fresh, and not handling,
storing, or cooking it properly can result to spoilage or increase one’s risk for food poisoning. It is
important to be aware of the various intricacies in preparing different types of seafood so that we can
make the most out of these ingredients.
Fish and shellfish tend to be among the most expensive foodstuff in the market. This is because they are
difficult to catch, as well as handle and store. Certain varieties of seafood are also hard to come by, and
so command steep prices in the marketplace. Thus, it is important that we learn to handle them well in
order not to put them to waste. Just how long the seafood you purchased will last depends on its
condition when you bought it and how you will store it.
Here are some quick and easy tips to remember about keeping seafood fresh and in best condition for
Keep it cold. Fish, shellfish, and other types of seafood come from deep, cold waters and thus need to be
kept in an environment similar to their origin as much as possible to keep them fresh. When storing fresh
seafood at home, keep it in the freezer or the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to
ensure that the temperature is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Fish especially deteriorates in quality
when placed in higher temperatures, so when transporting them, employ the use of a cooler or a bucket
with ice slush (approximately 2 parts ice to 1 part water). Here’s another tip—when going to the market
or grocery, always buy seafood last so it does not stay too long outside the freezer.
Store it quickly and properly. Finfish should be kept in the refrigerator and ideally consumed in a couple
of days after purchasing. If you won’t use them immediately, wrap them tightly in moisture-proof bags to
keep them from drying out and store them in the freezer. Shellfish that are bought live in their shells, on
the other hand, should be placed in a shallow pan (with no water) and covered with wet paper towels
and then kept in the fridge. Mussels and clams should be cooked within 2 to 3 days, while oysters can
last a little bit longer (up to a week or so). Shucked shellfish should be sealed in a container and kept
frozen. Live lobsters, crabs, and other similar seafood should be cooked the day they were bought.
A good tip is to mark packages of frozen seafood with the date when they were purchased, so you are
reminded of which ones to consume first — first in, first out (FIFO). Remember to thaw frozen seafood
properly, ideally by placing them in the refrigerator section overnight. You can also place them in cold
water while inside a sealed plastic bag, or using the defrost setting on a microwave oven. Be careful with
using a microwave though as it may inadvertently start cooking the fish.
Keep it clean. As with all types of food, seafood must be handled and prepared in a clean environment
to avoid cross contamination. Keep your hands clean and sanitized, as well as the prep area and the
utensils being used. Never allow raw seafood to come into contact with other types of food, especially
those that have already been cooked or ready-to-eat items such as salads, fruits, or vegetables. At the
same time, juices or drippings from raw seafood should not come into contact with cooked food or those
that will be eaten raw. Similarly, never place cooked seafood on a plate or container that used to store
Enjoying the best of seafood flavors
With the right knowledge, buying, handling, and storing seafood items and preparing them for a meal
will become a more rewarding and pleasurable experience. Fishes and shellfish offer some of the most
versatile food items available to man, and we should learn how to make the most out of the wonderful
flavors and textures that they provide in our dishes and meals.