October is National Seafood Month, so it’s a great time to get ready to celebrate the nutritional benefits of seafood and smart seafood choices.
For one thing, seafood is lower in calories than other protein sources, that is, if you don’t bread/fry and smother it in garlic butter.
The fattier fish species have a stronger flavor and more of the healthy Omega 3 oils. My advice: Just enjoy a variety of seafood at least twice a week to stay healthy.
Almost anything goes on a Florida restaurant menu, especially when it comes to seafood. You will find a wide variety of choices from A to Z (amberjack to vermilion snapper). Here are some of my personal favorites.
Four common Florida finfish
As a “Florida native,” I learned to fish at an early age and appreciate my fresh “catch of the day.” I would consider catfish truly the ultimate Southern favorite fish, but mullet is another, which is often served smoked. Red snapper is considered mild-flavored and has a pinkish tint. It can be fried, blackened or broiled. Although I must admit, grouper is my all-time favorite. It has such a mild flavor and is so versatile. It is great served blackened, broiled or chargrilled as an entrée. A fried grouper sandwich for lunch was my mother’s favorite, and now mine; but, broiled/blackened – it is hard to beat that.
Fresh Florida shellfish
Living on or near the Gulf Coast offers many opportunities to go out and harvest fresh shellfish yourself – it will never taste better. Blue crabs are easily caught in traps bated with chicken parts, and are cooked and served in both hard-shell and more common soft-shell state. There are hatcheries for littleneck clams in Cedar Key and Boca Grande, and if you haven’t been to Cedar Key, be sure to put that on your To Do list. It is definitely worth the trip for a hot bowl of their famous clam chowder.
The summer months are prime time for scallops – I count on my brother to keep me supplied. It is actually the muscle between the two shells that we eat, and enjoy the sweet and succulent meat. Scallops often are served fried, grilled, broiled, and in soups or on salads.
Shrimp is definitely a Florida favorite and they come in many sizes and colors; even Rock Shrimp that resemble tiny, spiny lobsters in looks and taste are uniquely delicious.
Spiny Lobster (our Florida lobster) is smaller than one from Maine, but still delectably divine, and can be cooked and served the same way – a great excuse to visit the Keys!
Get ready for Stone crab claws that are available from October to May. They can be served hot or cold with lemon butter, mustard or cocktail sauce – all delicious!
Betsy Crisp is an Extension Family & Consumer Sciences agent and a licensed dietitian for the University of Florida/IFAS. She is based in Pasco County and can be reached at .
Here is a sensational seafood recipe from my days as a seafood nutritionist working for the Florida Department of Natural Resources, when I did recipe testing and marketing/promoting Florida seafood in the state of Florida, as well as out in the Midwest:
Creamy Seafood Medley
1 pound each: fresh bay scallops and shrimp (you could also add crab, but keep to 2 pounds total seafood)
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine
2 cans (10 ¾ ounce) condensed cream of shrimp soup
1 cup light cream or milk
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
In a skillet, cook onion until tender, and lightly brown scallops in butter, set aside.
In a saucepan, steam shrimp until opaque, drain.
Add to scallops and onions to saucepan.
Add soup and cream to saucepan, stir well.
Cook just a few minutes to blend flavors and heat to serving temperature (190°F to 200°F – do not allow to boil).
Spoon mixture into six, lightly buttered ramekins.
In another small bowl add melted butter and breadcrumbs, mix well and divide mixture evenly on top of each ramekin.
Broil until topping is lightly browned.
Serve and enjoy.
Makes 6 servings.
Published September 28, 2016