Healthy Seafood Buyer's Guide
Tips for choosing popular fish and seafood at the supermarket.
Shopping Tip: Raw, frozen and cooked shrimp are all sold by the number needed to make one pound—for example, "21-25 count" or "31-40 count"—and by more generic size names, such as "large" or "extra large." Size names don’t always correspond to the actual "count size." To be sure you’re getting the size you want, order by the count (or number) per pound.
Best Choices for the Environment: Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as Wild American Shrimp or Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.
Prep Tips: Thaw frozen shrimp in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, place shrimp in a colander under cold running water until thawed.
The "vein" running along a shrimp’s back (technically the dorsal surface, opposite the legs) under a thin layer of flesh is really its digestive tract: use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp, then pull it out with the tip of the knife.
A fatty fish, salmon is high in both EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids that help heart health by slowing growth of arterial plaque, lowering triglyceride levels and reducing the risk of irregular heartbeat.
Shopping Tip: Salmon steaks and fillets are most commonly found at the seafood counter. Canned salmon is a convenient choice for making salmon salad and salmon cakes.
Best Choices for Your Health & the Environment: Buy wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (Alaska and Washington) when you can—they are more sustainably fished and have a larger, more stable population. The increase in salmon farms has led to high concentrations of fish waste in the ocean surrounding them, which threatens wild salmon populations. The price of wild salmon is lowest when it’s in season—mid-May through mid-September.
Prep Tips: To skin a salmon fillet, place it on a clean cutting board, skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long, sharp knife between the flesh and the skin, holding the skin down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.
If you’re grilling salmon, keep the skin on. Doing so helps hold the fish together and protects the delicate flesh from the searing heat. Once cooked, the skin slips off easily.