Under the Sea: A Guide to Quality Local Seafood
Intimidated by the thought of grilling up a lobster tail? Contrary to what you might think, preparing seafood at home doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve put together a simple how-to, so you don’t have to miss out on all the quality seafood the PNW has to offer.
True, seafood can be an involved process. But isn’t that how it is with most things worth doing? There’s a reason seafood is often considered a special occasion food–there are many ways to go wrong, so it’s even more impressive when you nail it. Lucky for you, you now have an insider’s guide to selecting, preparing, and serving the highest quality seafood in the PNW, and it’s not as difficult as you think!
Quality is Key
While there are many decisions regarding the preparation of great seafood, the most important decisions are made in the selection. No matter how great you are at seasoning, grilling, broiling, or baking, nothing will enhance the flavor of your dish like choosing quality seafood at the store. When it comes to seafood, the fresher the better. The great news is, we have access to an abundance of fresh seafood in the PNW, and here at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, we source our seafood locally. So whenever you purchase seafood at one of our stores, you can rest assured you’ve already made the best choice when it comes to the quality of your seafood. And we have a great selection–from succulent crab legs to our fresh ahi tuna steaks–along with the other ingredients and spices you’ll need to prepare quality local seafood at home! Let’s get started.
How to Prepare and Serve Quality Local Seafood
Selection and Preparation
Possibly the most intimidating item on our list, so we’ll tackle it first! Many would argue that you can’t beat live lobsters, but if you don’t feel up to killing lobsters yourself, you can find wild caught lobster tails on ice in our meat department. There are many great ways to prepare lobster tails, and they all have their own advantages. Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll want to rinse and dry your whole tails before cooking them. Check the meat for the darkly colored digestive tract, and remove and discard if present. You can cook lobster tail in the shell, but we highly recommend that you “butterfly” them instead. This process involves pulling the meat from the shell and setting it on top while still attached at the fin. You’ll find it’s not as hard as it sounds, and it will give your tails that signature look you see in restaurants. You can butterfly your lobster tails for every method of cooking except boiling.
As far as methods for cooking, you’ll find there are many–including steaming, baking, grilling, or broiling, but we recommend baking for greater control over the process and best retention of flavor. Preheat oven to 450°F. After you’ve butterflied your tails, season with Tacoma Boys “Cape Cod Style” Seafood Seasoning. Bake 12-15 minutes until the meat is a creamy white color with no translucent spots. Do not overcook your lobster, or it will have a rubbery consistency. Serve with melted butter, lemon and parsley. Perfect for your next special occasion (Father’s Day is coming up!), but easier than you thought possible, this meal is sure to impress!
Clams and Oysters
Selection and Storage
While biologically different, the preparation for clams and oysters is relatively similar. They make a great appetizer and are shockingly simple to prepare. Oysters and clams are both nutritionally dense, both high in protein, both low calorie and low fat. Oysters are a great source of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, potassium and a famed aphrodisiac. Meanwhile, clams are packed with Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, magnesium and iron. To guarantee freshness, clams and oysters are sold live. We have them on ice, available by the dozen. Ensure the oysters and clams you’re purchasing are live by checking to see that they’re all the way closed, or tap them. If they move, they’re still alive. Store in the fridge in a porous bag like burlap, or in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel for no more than 24 hours. If you store them in an airtight container, they’ll suffocate.
When you’re ready to prepare and eat your clams or oysters, soak them in a brine (1 gallon of water mixed with ⅓ cup of salt for a few hours.) Pro Tip: If you add cornmeal to the mixture, it’ll lighten the meat and clear sand from the digestive tract. Next, scrub with a stiff brush. For easier opening, put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. If you have an oyster shucker, it might make the task of opening your shellfish easier, but if not, you can use a paring knife or a flat head screwdriver. Shuck the clam or oyster flat side up. Your goal is to work the blade into the crack and sever the adductor muscle that holds the shell together. You’ll want to do this over a bowl to save the juice inside (called clam liquor).
You can serve raw clams and oysters on the half shell, no cooking required! Simply fill a serving dish with ice, and nestle them in. For a great presentation, set ramekins with horseradish, lemon juice, and tabasco sauce in the middle. Great for parties, with very few steps required, this appetizer will please a crowd every time!
Unless you’re buying live crabs, crab legs come pre-cooked, so essentially all you’re doing is reheating them. The trick becomes doing so while still maintaining flavor and retaining moisture. The good news is, we take the guesswork out of the selection process by carrying nothing but the best wild-caught king crab legs.
If you’re cooking for a crowd, steaming is recommended. For this method, simply place your steam basket in the bottom of a stock-pot with 1 cup of water. Fold as many legs as will fit into the basket, close it, and bring the pot to a boil. Once you have a boil, put the lid on your pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until the crab legs are steaming hot and fragrant.
Instant Pot Method
For a smaller number of people, the instant pot is a great method for cooking! The instant pot helps maintain juiciness and gets dinner on the table fast. For this method, place your trivet in the bottom of your 6 qt instant pot along with 1 cup of water. Fold 3-4 clusters of crab legs into the pot. Then put the lid on and set it to “sealing.” Next, set the pot to manual on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release, and your legs are ready!
Be sure to have a crab cracker or walnut cracker on hand, as well as a bowl for the shells. Melt butter and mix in Tacoma Boys “Cape Cod Style” Seafood Seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for dipping. Wow your partner with crab legs on your next date night in or serve with a salad at a dinner party for a meal that will leave them speechless.
Last but not least, try our mouth-watering wild caught steelhead fillets or a wild ahi tuna steak. When you have fish this fresh, it’s best to keep it simple with the preparation. This allows the flavor of the fish to come through without competition.
For a perfectly done steelhead fillet, preheat your oven to 375° F. Rub fillets with Tacoma Boys “Cedar Plank” Sweet + Smoky Salmon Rub. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place the steelhead filet in the middle. Fold up sides of the foil. Pour melted butter over each fillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Steelhead is done when it flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.
Ahi Tuna Steaks
The simplest and most delicious way to enjoy ahi tuna steaks is a simple pan fry. Begin by marinating tuna steaks for a minimum of 2-3 hours in Tacoma Boys Spicy Asian Honey Marinade. Then, preheat a cast-iron skillet to 450° F in the oven. Transfer the hot skillet to the stove on medium-high heat. Drizzle avocado oil (or another oil with a very high heat index, like grapeseed oil) onto the pan, and sear tuna steaks on each side for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side for a rare sear (why would you eat ahi tuna steaks any other way? But if you insist, give it a little longer on each side). If desired, top with more marinade or soy sauce.
High in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, fish is a great source of lean protein. The oils that come from fish are also great for joint, tendon, and ligament health. Plus, when cooked to perfection, fish is simply scrumptious!
In a bind for time? Don’t miss out on our pre-seasoned fillets. We offer delicious flavor combinations like Potato and Cheddar Crusted Cod Fillets and Chipotle & Lime Crusted Tilapia–all you have to do is cook them!
The Best Seafood in the PNW
If you’re lucky enough to live in the PNW, you’re surrounded by some of the highest quality seafood the country has to offer. Here at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, we recognize and appreciate the opportunity we have to bring everything the great state of Washington has to offer to your table. Stop by and let our friendly store associates help you choose a great salmon fillet or king crab leg today!