Healthy Seafood Buyer's Guide
Tips for choosing popular fish and seafood at the supermarket.
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.
Despite their reputation as a luxury ingredient, scallops no longer fetch lobster-class prices. Sea scallops are larger and are great for sautéing or broiling. Try the smaller bay scallops in soups or tossed in a pasta sauce.
Shopping Tip: We recommend cooking with "dry" sea scallops (scallops that have not been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP). Scallops that have been treated with STP ("wet" scallops) have been subjected to a chemical bath and are not only mushy and less flavorful, but will not brown properly because they’ll give off too much liquid. Dry sea scallops are often labeled as such.
Prep Tip: Look for the small, tough muscle on the side of most scallops and pull it off with your fingers before cooking them.
A freshwater fish that originated in North Africa, tilapia can now be found at fish counters and on restaurant menus across the U.S., where its mild taste and light white meat have made it increasingly popular.
Best Choices for the Environment: Look for U.S. farm-raised tilapia, which is usually grown in closed farming systems that limit pollution and prevent escapes of the farmed fish into the wild. Some Central and South American tilapia is farmed in this manner as well, but avoid tilapia from China and Taiwan, mostly farmed in open systems.
A warm-water fatty fish, tuna is found throughout the world’s seas. Yellowfin and bigeye tuna, also called ahi, is common at supermarket fish counters. Yellowfin is one of the types of tuna used in the canning industry under the "chunk light" label.
Best Choices for Your Health & the Environment: Tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but can also be high in mercury, since it eats high on the food chain. Those who need to be concerned about mercury (pregnant and breast-feeding women, and children) should opt for smaller species—look for yellowfin (ahi) tuna at your seafood counter and choose canned chunk light tuna. Avoid bluefin tuna—they’re severely overfished and the methods used to catch them endanger other sea creatures, such as sea turtles and sharks.