Spectacular Seafood Cooking Secrets

Cooking seafood is a paradox – it’s simple and, yet, incredibly difficult. Top chefs in the world use ridiculously simple techniques and create culinary masterpieces. Other top chefs prepare elaborate sauces and gravies to bring out absolutely stunning seafood dishes. From the lofty Michelin chefs to the shacks of the beaches, every chef strives to deliver and incredible dish.

Home chefs, too, work hard to spin out fabulous dishes to dole out memorable seafood dishes. So what are the ground rules for stunning seafood dishes?

We posed the question to our chefs (with decades of experience in seafood cooking) – what are the secrets of cooking spectacular seafood dishes. We listened hard and patiently to glean from their words of experience and then simplified it for presentation to you.

Here’s what we learned from our chefs about seafood cooking.

Get Fresh With It

From the humble shack to the lofty fine-dining restaurants there is one immutable law of seafood cooking. You have got to get the freshest catch.  The Ikejime technique of paralysing a fish by driving a spear into its brain to maintain the quality of meat originated in Japan but is now used the world over.

There is no substitute for fresh fish. Nothing! No amount of cooking technique or finesse can make up for fish which is not fresh. Our chefs are maniacal about the quality of the fish. Nothing but the finest and the freshest catch enters the kitchens of Big Pitcher.

Seafood Cooking Secrets

Complementing Flavours, Not Smothering

Fish has extremely distinct tastes and texture. The secret of the perfect seafood dish is to ensure that the accompanying flavours are complementary and not dissimilar or conflicting. Sushi and Sashimi are complemented by nothing but pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. The simplest Indian fried fish uses just turmeric, salt and dried chilly powder and despite its simplicity is a spectacular seafood dish. Some cuisines keep it very simple while other cuisines have multiple ingredients. What is common, however, how to preserve the fine balance of different flavours and aromas which orchestrate into a towering crescendo of seafood epicurean delight.

Cook it Just Right

Love prawns? Ever tried cooking it for too long? Suddenly, the delicious dish that you were looking for turns out to be a rubbery mass. Seafood cooking depends heavily on technique and on time taken. If you’re frying fish in oil or butter, you must have the temperature right and you need to use a thick-bottomed frying vessel. If the temperature of the oil is too high, then the fish will burn. If it’s too low, then the fish will stick to the bottom.

Unlike other proteins, seafood has very little room for error. A matter of seconds could mean the difference between the perfect dish and an overcooked or undercooked dish.  Learn about the cooking technique thoroughly – braising, frying, crumb-frying, batter-frying, steaming, stir-frying or any other technique that you may be using. Ask other home cooks (seriously, they are wonderful storehouse of knowledge and always eager to help) before you start.

Seafood Cooking

Presentation Matters

The Japanese have perfected the art of presentation of sushi and sashimi. On the other hand, most Indian dishes are smothered in gravies. Presentation, even if it is elementary, can heighten the seafood experience. Professional plating maybe difficult to achieve but using suitable garnishes can enhance the presentation of your seafood dish. Another technique is to use suitable crockery or utensils. Copper or brass utensils go well with Indian seafood dishes. You can innovate by using banana leaves too. Use your imagination, read up but remember that presentation particularly in subtle dishes go a long way in enhancing the seafood experience.

Well, seafood cooking is a wide and deep topic but we wanted to keep this article bite-sized and hope this has been useful.

Happy seafood cooking!

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