Here in Alabama, we’re blessed to have so much fresh seafood product right here in our backyard. And one of the beautiful qualities of Alabama Gulf Seafood is that our finfish and shellfish can be prepared in so many different ways to really bring out the flavor.
But with so many products and so many ways to cook ‘em, it can be hard to know exactly what method to pair with a particular fish.
Let’s break down some of the more popular seafood preparation techniques so that you’ll know the best way to enjoy your next Alabama Gulf Seafood Meal.
Cooking Technique: A down-home seafood bake can be a delightful dish for one or multiple people—and it can save you some preparation time, too. Just preheat your oven, put your ingredients in a baking dish, cover them in the necessary toppings, and let it cook while you wait.
Recommended Fish: Baking works best when you’ve got a lean, flaky fish, and Flounder is just that. These delicate fillets will cook up quite nicely. Or, if you can track down Croaker, they’re an underrated candidate for a baked seafood feast.
Recipe Suggestion: Alabama Gulf Fish in Parchment with Citrus Reduction / Baked Shrimp with Crabmeat and Bleu Cheese
Cooking Technique: If you’ve got time on your hands and a lot of mouths to feed—we’re talkin’ a whole party’s worth—then boiling will do the trick. Just heat up that water and toss everything in and you’re cooking with gas.
Recommended Fish: We’d be hard-pressed not to recommend a Low Country Boil or a Crab Boil here. Find the biggest pot you’ve got and fill it full of fresh Gulf Shrimp or Blue Crabs, then add corn, potatoes, and even sausage if you’re extra hungry.
Recipe: Junior League Marinated Shrimp / Martie Duncan’s Lower Alabama Style Shrimp Boil
Cooking Technique: This simple technique is almost as easy as using the microwave, but it’ll taste a lot better. If you’ve got a broiler at home, just cover your fillets in olive oil, add salt and pepper, and toss ‘em on. (Don’t be afraid to cook them with the skin on, either—just make sure they’re skin-side down.)
Recommended Fish: Lots of fish work well broiled—any fish that grills up nicely (like Grouper or Red Snapper, or even Oysters) will do fine here. We’d recommend Pompano or Sheepshead for big flavor without all the excessive preparation.
Recipe: Chris Sherrill’s Grouper Jubilee / Broiled Oysters on the Half Shell
Cooking Technique: If you’re looking for a fresh dish for a summer’s day, ceviche is the answer. It’s easy to prepare, too—essentially, you’re just marinating your product in citric acid, like lime juice or lemon juice, which “cooks” the fish without applying heat.
Recommended Fish: You’ll hear of Shrimp ceviche being a go-to dish, and we can’t disagree with that. But any semi-firm white finfish will serve you well, like Flounder, Grouper, or Mahi-Mahi; you don’t want a product that’ll fall apart from the citric acid.
Recipe: Red Snapper Ceviche
Cooking Technique: If you’re not too worried about the health factor of your seafood dinner, go ahead and fire up the fryer! The trick is in the breading—you can use flour and egg and bread crumbs for a classic preparation, but we’re partial to mustard or buttermilk for the coating.
Recommended Fish: If you’re planning a fish fry for the whole neighborhood, small but tasty fish like Mullet or Whiting are great choices. Fried Gulf Shrimp are an excellent choice too, of course. And don’t forget about Soft-Shell Crabs when they’re in season!
Recipe Suggestion: Fried Fish Po Boy with Tart and Tangy Cole Slaw / Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Rémoulade Sauce
Cooking Technique: A summertime tradition here on the Gulf Coast. Fire up some medium hot coals and grill your fish roughly 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. Keep in mind, fish loses moisture quicker than other meats, so don’t leave it on too long!
Recommended Fish: Of course, you can grill just about any fish you find on Alabama’s Gulf Coast and it’ll taste great. (We’d recommend Grouper or Red Snapper.) But try some fresh Gulf Oysters on the grill this summer or fall. Just sprinkle some cheese and seasonings on them and you’re in for a real treat.
Recipe Suggestion: Chargrilled Oysters with Compound Butter and Romano Cheese / Grilled Red Snapper with Mango Salsa
Cooking Technique: Pan-frying or pan-searing your seafood will yield a softer, less cooked center with a crispy crust on the outside. Just get your pan or skillet nice and hot, then coat it with oil and toss in your fillet, cooking a minute or less on each side. (Also, if you take the skin off, make sure you still sear that side first.)
Recommended Fish: Thick and meaty fish work well when pan-fried, so give Cobia, Mahi-Mahi, or even Triggerfish a try. And a popular choice for pan-searing is thick fillet of Gulf Tuna that will give you a well-cooked outer layer with a rosy pink interior.
Recipe Suggestion: Pecan and Herb Encrusted Red Snapper / Pan-Roasted Grouper with Butter Poached Fingerling Potatoes