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Better Food Guide to Seafood

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Buying the best fresh fish and seafood is not that difficult once you know what to look for. And we all know that as our confidence grows, then so do our appetites to discover new flavours! We’ve put together a few tips to help you select and handle our fresh fruits of the sea. In this guide, you’ll find out some really useful information, such as how much to buy per person, and how to tell that your selections are at their peak of freshness. And we’ll show you the most popular choices of fish and shellfish and what they’re best for. In short, everything you need to know to enjoy better seafood.

How Much to Buy

The Canada Food Guide recommends 2 to 3 servings of lean protein each day for adults. How big is a serving? It's 2.5 ounces cooked – about the size of a deck of playing cards or the palm of your hand.

Picking the right amount of seafood is easy—here are some guidelines on gauging portions and stretching your seafood dollar. Here’s what to consider.

The amount of raw fish you’ll need per person depends on the kind of fish or seafood you are selecting – so here are some handy tips:

  • For boneless finfish fillets or steaks – including popular choices such as frozen or fresh fillets of tilapia and cod, or salmon steaks – buy approximately 1/4 pound per serving.
  • For bone-in fish, buy approximately 1/2 pound per serving.
  • For shell-on shrimp, buy approximately 1/3 pound per serving.
  • For shell-on mussels or clams, buy approximately 1/2 pound per serving.
  • For shelled scallops, shrimp or crabmeat, buy approximately 1/4 pound per serving.
  • For live lobster or crab, buy approximately 1 pound per serving.
  • How to Handle and Store Seafood Safely

    Sobeys has deep roots in championing the highest standards of food safety and we believe that knowing how to keep seafood safely in the fridge or freezer and understanding how to thaw it correctly is all-important. Use these handy tips to guide how you handle seafood in your kitchen.

    Shop for seafood last, just before reaching the cashier, and pack seafood and fish in separate bags to prevent cross-contamination. Once your grocery trip is done, try to head straight home instead of stopping for other errands, and return your seafood purchase to the fridge or freezer as soon as possible.

    Use fresh seafood within two to three days after buying, or freeze until you are ready to cook.

    Store raw and leftover seafood well-wrapped on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent any juices from dripping on other foods.

    Thaw frozen seafood in the fridge or under running cold water – not on the counter or using warm water. Bacteria can grow quickly and invisibly when food is at room temperature. If defrosting with cold water, cook immediately upon defrosted.

    Cool leftovers in the fridge, not on the stove or counter. If you have a large amount, divide it into smaller portions before refrigerating. It will cool faster that way.

    Cut and prepare raw seafood on a separate cutting board from that used to cut ready to eat vegetables, fruit or other foods.

    Cook all fish to safe internal temperatures.

    Plate and serve cooked seafood on a clean platter – do not use the one that held the raw seafood prior to cooking.

    Check package labels and always use food before the "best before" date.

    How to Select

    What to look for when buying fish: Look for vibrant, plump flesh. Fresh fish should smell like clean water, or a touch briny. For skin-on fillets, look for skin that is shiny and metallic.

    What to look for when buying mussels, clams and oysters: Do a “tap test:” live clams, oysters and mussels will close up more tightly when the shell is tapped. If they don’t close when tapped, discard them. In addition, any shellfish that do not open during cooking should be discarded.

    What to look for when buying lobster and crab: Look for lobsters or crabs that feel heavy for their size. And watch whether the lobster or crab shows leg movement when picked up, which shows that it is still strong.

    Seafood

    seafood-salmon.jpg

    Salmon

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Farmed salmon is milder than the wild-caught variety with a delicate flavour. Its meat has a moderately firm texture.

    cooking tips

    Try salmon grilled, baked, pan-seared, broiled or poached. Because these fillets are pleasing to the eye, they should be shown off on the plate.

    seafood-tilapia.jpg

    Tilapia

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Farmed in warm waters, tilapia has a mild, sweet flavour and a lean, medium texture that is slightly flaky.

    cooking tips

    This is a highly versatile fillet, but don’t overwhelm the natural and delicate flavour of tilapia. The skin, while attractive, should not be eaten as it can have a bitter taste.

    seafood-cod.jpg

    Cod

    selection type

    Finfish

    Description

    Lean with a mild, sweet flavor, and a tender, slightly flaky texture.

    cooking tips

    A favourite for making fish and chips, cod also keeps its texture and flavour well in heartier dishes such as fish soup and fish pie.

    seafood-haddock.jpg

    Haddock

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    June through October

    Description

    A premium whitefish with a tender and flaky texture, haddock is slightly sweet and nearly melts in your mouth.

    cooking tips

    Try it sautéed, poached, pan-fried, smoked or in soups and stews.

    seafood-halibut.jpg

    Halibut

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    Year-round

    Description

    Halibut sports a delicate and subtly sweet flavor, glistening snow-white color, and flaky meat.

    cooking tips

    A perfect go-to fish for entertaining and special occasions.

    seafood-rainbow-trout.jpg

    Rainbow Trout

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    March to September

    Description

    Usually farmed in fresh water, trout has a delicate briny/salty flavour and gloriously flaky texture.

    cooking tips

    Try it as a substitute in any of your favourite broiled, baked or fried salmon dishes.

    seafood-sole.jpg

    Sole

    selection type

    Finfish

    in season

    Year-round

    Description

    Mild and sweet with a dense, glistening white appearance, these flat fish are found in cool deep Atlantic waters.

    cooking tips

    A kid-friendly, mild and delicate, sole is ideal for pan-frying with a squeeze of lemon to make a quick weeknight family meal.

    seafood-mussels.jpg

    Mussels

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    A rich taste that is quite distinctive, mussels are plump and tender.One of Canada’s most important seafood crops, mussels enjoyed across north America are often farmed in Prince Edward island. Look for mussels that have an unbroken, tightly closed shell.

    cooking tips

    You should remove the mussel’s beard (which attaches to surfaces) before cooking (beards may not be evident on farmed mussels. They are best in simple dishes, such as moules marinière, where they are steamed in white wine.

    seafood-hardshell-clams.jpg

    Hardshell Clams

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Hard-shelled clams have a mild flavour, are sweet and briny when eaten raw, and should be ivory to golden yellow (with some dark areas). When cooked, they are soft, juicy and mild with a pale, pinkish-white colour.

    cooking tips

    Discard any clams with open or broken shells. Enjoy them raw, steamed, boiled or added to a variety of rich dishes such as pasta or boullabaise.

    seafood-shrimp.jpg

    Shrimp

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    June through November

    Description

    Shrimp come in a wide variety, from Black Tiger to Vannamei. Trawled from the Philipine Islands west to India, black tiger shrimp are much more mild in comparison to bolder-tasting Gulf or white shrimp.

    cooking tips

    Grilled, steamed, broiled or pan-fried, shrimp make quick-cooking, delicious centrepieces for appetizers and mains such as pasta and stir-fries.

    seafood-bay-scallops.jpg

    Bay Scallops

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Mild and sweet. Raw, they should be creamy-pink, firm and moist. Once cooked, they should be opaque white and firm.

    cooking tips

    Bay scallops cook quickly due to their small size, so make sure you do not overcook as they will lose their flavour.

    seafood-sea-scallops.jpg

    Sea Scallops

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Sweet with a rich taste. Raw, they should be shiny and creamy white with an elastic sponginess. Cooked, they turn opaque white with a firm texture.

    cooking tips

    Sea scallops cook fairly quickly and their larger size make them great for grilling on the barbecue.

    seafood-softshell-clams.jpg

    Softshell Clams

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    The soft-shelled clam is sweet with a slight salty taste. Its delicate meat ranges from ivory to gold (with some dark areas) and the shell should be whole and clean.

    cooking tips

    Do not eat raw – instead, steam in shell or fry.

    seafood-lobster.jpg

    Lobster

    selection type

    Shellfish

    in season

    Year round

    Description

    Our premium Nova Scotia lobsters are hard-shelled, so you get more meat per lobster than their soft-shelled counterparts. Lobster meat is mild and sweet with a very firm texture.

    cooking tips

    Steamed or boiled, lobster can be enjoyed as a special main course, or used to enhance a variety of seafood dishes and platters.

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