October is Seafood Month!
Seafood is a whole category of animal protein with diverse flavors, textures, and preparation methods in addition to offering serious nutritive content. Even if you love seafood, you may worry it’s too expensive to incorporate weekly or too difficult to cook well. Learn how to shop and prepare budget-friendly seafood that doesn’t compromise quality or sustainability. You can find ingredients mentioned in this blog at the Davis Food Co-op.
You can always visit the Meat & Seafood Counter at the Co-op with questions! Our experienced Meat Cutters and Seafood Buyers know everything about the products in the case and can help with special orders if there’s something specific you are looking for.
There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Let this blog help you find the right one for your next meal!
At the Meat & Seafood Counter
If you’re looking for fresh seafood, the best place to go is the Meat & Seafood Counter. Both availability and price are largely determined by the season.
In many cases, you can make swaps to save some money. Steelhead Trout and Salmon cook up very similarly as orange fatty fishes – choose whichever is cheapest. Similarly, Tilapia and Sole can be used interchangeably as well as Cod with Mahi Mahi, and Tuna with Swordfish.
If you’re unsure of what to purchase, ask someone behind the Counter. They are very knowledgeable and friendly!
*At the Davis Food Co-op, all of our seafood is MSC and BAP certified.
Product Highlight: Bluehouse Salmon
Bluehouse Salmon raises salmon in environmentally conscious Bluehouses, the aquaculture equivalent to a greenhouse. Their Bluehouses are 95% water, 5% fish, and use 99% recycled and filtered water. In the Bluehouse there is no waste, no escapees, and no microplastics left into the ocean. The result is a salmon with no added hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides – only all-natural, protein-rich, sushi-grade salmon. Ranked Best Choice by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and recommended by Ocean Wise.
In the Frozen Aisle
You may have heard that frozen seafood is cheaper than fresh, and it often is! Don’t be afraid to source your seafood from the frozen aisle. Look for the following when shopping frozen seafood.
Filets in Bulk
You can find frozen filets of a wide variety of fish (and shellfish) available at the end of Aisle 10. These packages usually contain multiple individual servings/filets. Definitely price compare with what’s in the case to find the cheapest option (make sure to calculate price per ounce!) but this is a good option for someone shopping for one or a family.
Frozen fish must be thawed prior to use. Slow, even temperature changes are best for maintaining taste and texture, which means you should thaw the portion you intend to use overnight (or all day) in the refrigerator. If you’re human and forget to do this, your next best option is to thaw in a bowl of cold water or cold running water. It will take about 15 minutes. Do not thaw in hot water, in the microwave, or on the counter. These methods not only compromise taste and texture, but allow for more potential for harmful bacteria to grow.
Product Highlight: Pacific Seafood Clams
Harvested by hand from the West Coast of California and Baja Mexico, Pacific Seafood White Hard Clams are a rich source of protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin C, iodine, and selenium. And, as one of the cheapest frozen seafood options, frozen clams are one of your best tools in savvy seafood shopping and eating. If you don’t know what to do with clams, check out the recipes at the end of this blog!
Discount Fish (10–50% OFF)
Everyday the Meat Department freezes fresh fish from the case that has reached its “freeze by” date. You can find this 10-50% off discount seafood at the end of Aisle 10. This is a great way to save some money and try something new (ask at the Counter the best way to prepare your catch of the day).
If you’ve heard that you must use the freshest, best quality fish for sushi and sashimi, you heard right! We stock frozen sushi-grade Salmon and Ahi. Use sushi-grade white fish for ceviche too. Thaw overnight in the fridge for best results. Sushi-grade fish may not always be the most budget friendly option (but it’s nice to know we have it).
In the Grocery Aisles
Don’t forget about the grocery aisles when shopping seafood – you’ll find your most economical options here. Yes, we’re talking “tinned fish”, which you may have seen had its viral moment on the internet earlier this year. The internet (read: younger generations) went wild for canned Salmon, Anchovies, Sardines, etc. in part because of the affordability and sustainability of these products!
We offer a lot of tinned fish options, so here’s what to look for. The most affordable canned fish are usually Sardines, Anchovies and Tuna (Salmon, Oysters, and fancier things can be more expensive). Mackerel, Trout and Sardines are mild and less “fishy” tasting. Anchovies are little umami bombs that melt deliciously into sauces and dishes.
Another great way to get delicious, salty, fishy taste into your dishes is with Red Boat Fish Sauce (made with just fish and salt). Add to your next stir fry, starting with ½ a teaspoon and adding more as you like.
Product Highlight: Wild Planet Sardines
Wild Planet is our pick when it comes to affordability and sustainability. Wild Planet Sardines aren’t too “fishy” and have a delicious, mild flavor. Sustainably caught and firm in texture, Wild Planet Sardines are an easy way to eat lower on the food chain while gaining essential nutrients such as EPA and DHA omega-3s, iron, and potassium.
- Salmon filets
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub each salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on the parchment and cook for 12 minutes for every inch of thickness on the filet.
You can take it a step further and wrap your salmon in a parchment packet with aromatics, citrus, veggies, and a drizzle of olive oil. The steam trapped in the packet will infuse the fish with flavor and cook it gently, making it tender and juicy. The parchment packet method only takes about 15 minutes at 425°F. Try lemon, capers and parsley.
Saucy Clam Pasta
- 1 lb. pasta of choice (see what you already have!)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 heaping teaspoon Italian herb blend or dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon or more red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup dry white wine (whatever you don’t mind drinking the rest of!)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 2 lb. clams, thawed if frozen
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For serving: crusty bread
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add salt and dried pasta. Cook until just under al dente (about 2 minutes less than the lesser cooking time). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining pasta. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic, dried herbs, and chili flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and reduce by half, about five minutes.
After reduced and thickened, add in vegetable stock and pasta water. Bring to a boil, again, then add the clams. Lower the heat to a simmer, and put the lid on the Dutch oven. Let the clams cook until they open, about 10 minutes. Once the clams have opened up, remove from the sauce, placing them onto a separate plate. Throw away any clams that have remained closed.
Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, pasta, and a good amount of grated parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper to the cooking pot. Let simmer until the pasta is al dente, 2-3 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed. Add the clams back to the pot and serve in bowls with crusty bread.
Mediterranean Style Fish Toasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 big pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 cans sardines in olive oil, drained
- 4 slices fresh bakery bread
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, sizzle the garlic clove and red pepper flakes for about 10 seconds, stirring the whole time. Add the lemon zest, stir, and immediately add the sardines. Cook, stirring frequently, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toast the bread. Stir the parsley into the sardines, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and mix. Divide between the toasts and serve.
Tahini Caesar Salad Dressing and Veggie Dip
- 1/2 cup well-stirred tahini (Soom is a great brand at the Co-op)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 anchovy filets
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- About ½ cup water
Combine everything except the water in a bowl or glass jar with a well fitting lid. Whisk or shake until it comes together. The mixture may thicken and “seize”. Add water a tablespoon at a time while whisking slowly until the mixture relaxes and thins. Add water until desired consistency is reached. You can do this in a blender or food processor as well. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Tuna Banh Mi
- 2 (5-ounce) cans solid, water-packed tuna, drained
- 1.5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 French baguette
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- 1 English cucumber, sliced
- Half a bunch of cilantro, torn
In a medium bowl, combine tuna, tamari, maple, sesame oil, and garlic. Mix. You can make it spicy by adding chili paste or your favorite hot sauce, but don’t overdo it since you’re adding jalapeños too. Set aside.
Slice baguette in half (so you have 2 half size baguettes) and then slice to open each sandwich up. On one side of the bread, spread mayo. Split the seasoned tuna between both sandwiches. Then topped with shredded carrots, thinly sliced cucumbers, sliced jalapenos, and cilantro as desired. Enjoy!
Classic Tuna Melt
- 3 (5-ounce) cans solid, water-packed tuna, drained
- ¾ cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup finely chopped cornichons or small kosher dill pickles
- 3 tablespoons minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 packed tablespoon minced fresh dill
- 1-2 green onions, minced
- 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 slices rye or sourdough bread
- 8 sandwich slices extra-sharp Cheddar
- 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, plus more as needed
Place the tuna in a medium bowl and flake with a fork. Add the mayonnaise, cornichons, red onion, lemon juice, dill, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Depending on the size of your bread, spoon ⅓ to ½ cup tuna salad on each of four slices of bread, heaping it in the middle slightly. Divide the cheese among the sandwiches, tearing and arranging the cheese to fit neatly. Place a piece of bread on top of each and generously spread the top piece of each sandwich with about ½ tablespoon butter.
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-low. Place two sandwiches, buttered-side down, in the skillet, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottom pieces of bread are golden brown. Meanwhile, spread the top of each sandwich with another ½ tablespoon butter. Carefully flip the sandwiches, turn the heat to low, and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the bottoms are browned and the cheese is melted. Repeat with the remaining two sandwiches and serve immediately.