Al Messilah Tips
Cooking and Preparation Suggestions
To many people, cooking seafood appears difficult. Nothing could be further than the truth! Seafood is often referred to by chefs as Fast Food, due to the short cooking time and ease of preparation. There are a few very simple and handy hints that can make the difference between an "alright meal" and an "excellent one". Read on!
Methods of cooking
The different methods of cooking seafood are as diverse as the range of seafood available. Some of the more popular are:
Shallow & Pan Frying - Almost all fillets of fish and most shellfish are suitable. Cook fillets for 2-3 mins each side at a moderate temperature.
Deep Frying - Once again all fillets and most shellfish are suitable. Lightly batter your fish and cut into even sizes to allow even cooking.
Baking - Moist and oily fish fillets, whole fish, and cutlets are best. This method is gentle on the fish. Allow 20mins at 180°C per kg of whole fish, or 5 mins per 100g fillet.
BBQ and Grilling - Moist or oily fillets, larger thicker fillets and most shellfish. Use plenty of oil and allow 2-3 minutes each side.
Microwave - Most smaller thinner fillets, be careful with shellfish.
Steaming - Firm textured fillets and smaller whole fish, crabs, mussels etc.
One of the safest and surest ways to cook your fillets would be to shallow fry, here’s a few simple hints.
- Lightly coat rinsed fillets in flour to help seal in all the juices and give that nice golden color when cooked.
- Pre heat the pan with a good quality cooking oil or butter.
- Cut fillets into smaller portions to allow thicker pieces to go first. Only turn once! Watch the sides of the fillet turn white, 1-2mins, then turn and cook for half the time on other side 1min.
- Make sure family is sitting at the table ready to eat as soon as the fillets are out of the pan.
Be adventurous and try a few different methods of cooking. The same fish can taste quite different depending on the method of cooking.
When is my fish cooked?
Don't overcook! Before you instantly think I don't do that. Stop and think about a few things. A majority of the world’s population that eat seafood, eat it raw or only partially cooked, bear in mind that these countries also have a considerably lower incidence of heart and other diseases. Maybe us westerners need to look at the way we cook our seafood. Most seafood takes seconds to cook not minutes. Also some types of seafood retain a lot of heat, so they will keep on cooking even after you take them out of the pan. You need to take all this into account with cooking times.
Generally to guarantee a tasty and perfectly cooked meal, take the seafood off the heat when it is 3/4 cooked. Fully cooked is over cooked.
As a general rule fish fillets are cooked when the fillet is uniformly opaque, flake when tested with a fork and the flesh springs back when touched.
The method of cooking and the type and thickness of the fillet, will all have an influence on cooking times. However, as a very general guide if you were to pan fry a fillet of medium texture and moistness, being approximately 1cm thick it would take 2-3minutes.
Storage of Seafood
We would recommend our seafood be consumed within 3-4 months of purchase.
Throughout the seafood industry, due to superior freezing techniques, it is uncommon for seafood to be sold up to twelve months after being caught. We would rather have you purchase smaller quantities and get fresh seafood, than stock up and find the quality has deteriorated over time.
Some hints to retain the quality of our seafood during freezing would be;
- Keep it cold, make sure your freezer is working well and not iced up.
- Make it airtight, tightly wrap the seafood in a plastic bag.
- Observe the Use By date, our date, is a best before date.
Many people do not realize that the way in which you thaw seafood can have a large effect on the outcome of the quality of the seafood.
Some hints to retain the quality of the seafood during thawing would be:
- Plan ahead, even though seafood is one of the fastest foods to defrost, the longer you plan ahead the better the thawing quality.
- Separate, break open the fillets or shellfish and lay out on a tray.
- Drain, try and use a plate that allows any defrosted juices to drain away.
- Refrigerate, always try and defrost in the fridge.
- Rinse in fresh water. A majority of our seafood is processed on board at sea. Therefore one of the most important steps to great tasting seafood is to rinse everything in fresh water, (this doesn't mean soak) This rinses off any surface flavor that may have got on the fillet etc during the processing, so that what you taste is the fresh "just been caught" flavor. Simple, but one of the most important steps to great tasting seafood.
- Microwave, thaw in stages, checking regularly, best not to fully thaw as heat will continue to pass through fillets, rinse under cold fresh water to stop thawing process