Besides the kitchen anxiety that cooking fish seems to induce in unpracticed home chefs, some people also avoid making it at home because of the common misconception that eating seafood is an expensive culinary habit: a luxury food reserved for restaurant dining. While some elaborate preparations are best left to the experts – take sushi, for example – most households can benefit from keeping a short list of quick seafood preparations on hand in their kitchen repertoires, and an eye on specials at the market. Eating fish can be a healthful, simple, and inexpensive way to feed even a family – even with picky eaters in the house.
A few tips:
- Like most things, buy it when it’s cheap, and buy a lot of it. This goes for frozen fish, in particular – once it’s been thawed, it should be cooked right away, but bulk frozen seafood can keep for a very long time, and it thaws much more quickly than red meat or poultry. If you’re buying fresh, make a lot of whatever you prepare, and then use leftovers in creative ways: most fish dishes transition easily into stews, croquettes, or even salad-sandwiches.
- Pay attention to your local market or online provider – seafood sales are way down right now, due to the depressed economy. Many fishmongers have frequent or surprisingly low-priced specials. A recent food blog even recommended buying up lobster at $10 a pound and throwing a party for your friends – it’s cheaper than a burger at nearly any local joint!
- Simple preparations are usually best. Think: dredged in flour and pan-fried with herbs and olive oil; seared in a heavy skillet then covered in broth and poached in the oven; or marinated in oil, soy, garlic, chilies, and brown sugar, and tossed on an open grill – tastes amazing, even in winter.