In its broadest definition, the name seafood is given to any sea or aquatic animal or plant that edible for humans. The term isn’t just limited to sea (salt water) life, but often includes freshwater fish, shellfish and roe. In the fish category there are salmon, tuna, flounder, perch, whiting, grouper, trout, tilapia, sardine, anchovy, catfish, cod, bass and many others. The shellfish category covers shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, snail, clams, crawfish, sea cucumbers, etc. Roe includes caviar, shad roe, tobiko, ikura, etc.

Safe Handling and Preparation

Seafood in the wild is harvested through fishing, usually with large nets or cages. Seafood is also farmed and  cultivated through a process called aquaculture or mariculture. Some refer to this as simply “fish farming.” Seafood is eaten around the world and provides a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty oils.

When cooking seafood, an important thing to remember is that seafood is a highly perishable food. Fresh seafood must either be cooked right away or placed in a refrigerator or freezer. Store in the freezer using moisture-proof freezer paper unless you plan to cook it within a day or two.

Shopping for Fresh Seafood

When buying fresh fish always shop with a retailer that goes by proper food handling guidelines. The seafood should be handled and stored in a clean, safe manner so that the fish remains fresh for the consumer. The fish should be stored on ice or refrigerated, with a fresh, mild smell (not sour or fishy smelling). On a whole fish, look for clear eyes that bulge out a little (with the exception of a few fish that naturally have cloudy eyes). Look for shiny, firm flesh with bright red-colored gills. Make sure the fish is not slimy. When buying fish fillets, make sure there’s no drying or darkening around the edges, and no discoloration.

The reason you’ll want to make sure the fish is fresh is to avoid consuming toxins called scombrotoxin (a.k.a. histamine), which can develop in fish that is left out in the sun too long. This toxin can cause serious illness.

Shopping for Frozen Fish

Frozen fish should remain frozen during transport. If it thaws and remains thawed for too long, the warm temperatures will spoil the fish.  When buying frozen fish, check the package to ensure it has not been opened or crushed on the edges. Look for seafood that is stored below the frost line in the grocery’s freezer section. Avoid fish that has signs of ice crystals or frost-these could mean it was thawed and refrozen or has been stored for a very long time.

Buying Shellfish

It is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that harvesters and processors of shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels include a special tag on the “live shellfish” containers and a special label on “shucked shellfish” containers. These can tell you a lot about the product, such as if it was harvested and/or processed using safe practices. When buying shellfish, throw away those that are broken or cracked on the shell. Live mussels, oysters and clams should close up when tapped on the shell. Look for leg movement on live lobsters and crabs to ensure they are still alive.

Preparation and Cooking Safety

It’s best to thaw frozen fish slowly in the refrigerator, but you can use a low defrost setting in the microwave if you must thaw it quickly. When preparing thawed or fresh fish, keep the usual meat safety rules in mind. Just like other types of meat, cross contamination can occur with fish. Bacteria can get on counter tops, other ready-to-eat foods, your hands and the meat cutting board. To minimize the chances of this happening, always wash your hands after touching the fish and sanitize any items that were exposed to the raw fish.

When cooking seafood, make sure the internal temperature of the fish reaches at least 145 degrees F. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature while cooking. Without a thermometer, you’ll have to use other methods to check for doneness. For fish, use a sharp knife to cut into a small area of the flesh and check to make sure it’s opaque in color and tender. For clams, oysters and mussels, look for the shells to open, indicating doneness. Discard those that don’t have an open shell after cooking. For lobster and shrimp, look for pearly-opaque colored flesh.

List Of The Seafood Tool Set I Found:

Photo Product Brand Details
Lobster Crackers Crab Leg Crackers and Tools – Lobster Crackers and Picks Set Shellfish Crab Claw Cracker Stainless Steel Seafood Crackers & Forks – lobster tools for eating Avide View on Amazon
Lobster Crackers Lobster Crackers and Picks Set, 10-Piece Crab Leg Cracker Tools – Stainless Steel Seafood Crackers & Forks Nut Cracker Set – Dishwasher Safe HiWare View on Amazon
Seafood Tools Set Artcome 21 Pcs Seafood Tools Set Nut Cracker Set includes 6 Crab Crackers, 6 Forks, 6 Lobster Shellers, 1 Lobster Crab Mallets, 1 Seafood Scissors and Storage Bag Artcome View on Amazon

Seafood Consumption and Pregnancy

As with any type of food, research to find out what type of seafood is safe for you and your family and how much of it you should consume. Pregnant women are to be very careful when eating seafood and should avoid swordfish, shark, King mackerel and tilefish. This is due to the amount of mercury in fish. Other types of fish that are low in mercury should be limited to 12 ounces per week. These include catfish, salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna and polluck.

Seafood makes a delicious entree for family meals, grill-outs and parties. It can be prepared with various types of seasonings and marinades, and complemented with sauces and dips while dining. For grilling or a fish-fry, serve it with fries or chips or vegetables, baked potatoes, slaw and hushpuppies for a fantastic traditional meal! Experiment with various types of seafood and recipes to expand your taste for fish. Start enjoying the many health benefits of seafood!