When purchasing, preparing or consuming Gulf Coast Seafood, it's key for the final product to be top-quality and more importantly, delicious! Here are some Gulf Coast Seafood best practices to follow:
Selecting Fresh Seafood
- Look for firm and shiny flesh when purchasing whole fish or fish fillets.
- There should be no darkening around the edges of the fish or brown or yellowish discoloration, especially if these areas appear dry or mushy.
- Fresh fish should have no fishy or ammonia smell.
- Live oysters may have slightly gaping shells and should close tightly when tapped. If not, the shellfish may be dead and should be discarded.
- Live crabs should show leg movement. Leg activity will lessen if refrigerated, but should still move.
Selecting Frozen Seafood
- Fillets or steaks should be solidly frozen in the package.
- There should be no evidence of drying out, such as white spots, dark spots, discoloration, or fading of red or pink flesh.
- There should be no signs of frost or ice particles inside the package. If ice crystals are present, the fish has either been stored for a long period or thawed and refrozen. There should be no liquid, frozen or thawed, in the package.
- Never store live (in the shell) oysters in air-tight containers. Place them in a container with a lid that is slightly ajar and refrigerate for no more than five days. Oysters will naturally open during storage.
- If you will not be using the fish within a day or so, it’s best to freeze it immediately. Wrap the fish tightly in plastic wrap, squeezing all the air out, and then wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze.
Preparation at Home
- It’s always best to cook fresh seafood within two days of purchase.
- Thaw seafood in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. To use frozen seafood immediately, thaw under cold running water (one to two hours per pound of seafood) or use the microwave defrost setting.
- Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Discard the marinade after use.
- Prevent cross-contamination between raw seafood and other food products.
- Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling raw seafood.
- Do not drip seafood juices on counters, utensils, or other foods.
Important Health Notes - Keep in mind that some people are at greater risk for foodborne illness and should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish. If you are unsure of your risk, ask your healthcare provider. Source: USDC National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Seafood Inspection Program, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.