“I need a Seafood 101 course on how to prepare it at home. I love it all but I’m afraid of overcooking shellfish. Any tips?” —Gwen, De Pere
Fear of overcooking fish and shellfish is valid because most people overcook it! Since there is so little connective tissue in seafood, it is very easy to overcook. For starters, let’s change our mindset from “Let’s not overcook this” to “Let’s try to undercook this.” Most seafood benefits greatly from being slightly undercooked because of its natural tenderness, and the inevitable “carry over cooking” usually gets slightly undercooked seafood right where we want it to be. Keep in mind that the recommended minimum internal temperature for seafood is 145° F, which should also be considered as the recommended maximum internal temperature. Two suggestions to avoid overcooking seafood would be to lower both the temperature and the amount of time we cook seafood. Seafood stews such as cioppino and bouillabaisse are examples of preparations that can very easily overcook the seafood. To avoid this, add the chilled seafood to the broth and slowly raise the temperature of the broth to 145° F and not one degree more to proactively ensure the integrity of the seafood.