What’s for dinner? Now that summer has arrived, you have probably already fired up the grill, or opened your outdoor kitchen for friends and family. Not only is grilling an essential staple of summertime fun and outdoor living enjoyment, but it can also be quite healthy if done correctly. Grilling meats makes it easier to manage a low-fat diet because grilling results in a reduced fat content compared to some other cooking methods. That’s because fat will drop off as the food cooks. Another benefit of grilling is the shorter cooking time. This helps to retain vitamins, especially when grilling fresh veggies!
With an added emphasis on food preparation and dining this season, many homeowners consider seafood one of the best selections for outdoor grilling and smoking. Seafood is a leaner source of protein than other meats Americans typically choose for the backyard barbecue. Much research has been conducted on the health benefits of seafood, particularly fish, in preventing heart disease. The best selections in regard to heart health are fatty fish or “dark fish” like tuna, salmon, swordfish, mackerel or bluefish, which are all high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Of course, when it comes to better taste and optimal health benefits, wild-caught is healthier than farm-raised, and when you think wild-caught — fresher is better — which means local is fresher than wild-fish caught abroad.
Author and essayist Paul Greenberg points out in his new book, American Catch, “A full 91% of seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, even though our local waters often teem with fresh fish and shellfish. This summer, demand local. You may pay a little more, but chances are you’ll be buying better quality seafood and supporting local fishermen.”
Here are a few helpful hints courtesy of Southern Living to ensure you and your family enjoy the freshest catch this season:
- When selecting whole fish – Look for firm flesh that springs back to the touch, bright red gills and clear eyes, telltale signs of freshness for fish like pompano and red snapper. Bonus: Whole fish costs less per pound than filets!
When selecting fish filets – Filets of white flaky fish such as flounder and denser black grouper should be firm to the touch. Avoid any filets with an oily sheen or excessive “gapping” in the flesh, or any stored in standing water. No bones about it, inspecting your filets carefully before purchasing will ensure against food-borne illness.
- When Blue Crab is on the menu – Select hard-shell and soft-shell crabs fresh, if possible even alive, and make sure to check they are not foaming at the mouth. Picked crabmeat prices are quite high at the moment and increasing due to labor costs and historically low catches.
- When selecting shrimp – Keep in mind, most “fresh” shrimp have been flash frozen and defrosted, so buy them frozen if you’re not cooking them immediately, which cuts out one of these steps. For defrosted shrimp, buy in the shell and peel yourself; they should feel firm and look plump. Whether you buy large (26-30 per pound) or mediums (41-50 per pound), make sure they’re shrimp from North Carolina to Texas — when in doubt, just ask.
When cooking outdoors, enjoy the moment, but always exercise common-sense practices to avoid contamination. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. Preheating your grill for 20 minutes can help kill lingering bacteria. Never use the same plate and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat. It is a good idea to scrape off and clean your grill after each use because bacteria and carcinogenic residue can build up on the grates over time. Finally, don’t forget to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meats!
If you are ready to learn more about how an outdoor kitchen or custom food preparation and dining area would enhance your outdoor living space, contact Archadeck of Central SC today. We are your one-stop shop for all your outdoor living design needs! Call (803) 603-2160 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.