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Tips on how to properly prepare seafood

Thaw Seafood safely

Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. If you have to thaw seafood quickly, either seal it in a plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, or - if the food will be cooked immediately thereafter - microwave it on the "defrost" setting and stop the defrost cycle while the fish is still icy but pliable. Prevent Cross-Contamination

When you're preparing fresh or thawed seafood, it's important to prevent bacteria from the raw seafood from spreading to ready-to-eat food. Take these steps to avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling any raw food.
  • Wash the cutting board with soap and hot water to remove food particles and juices after using it for raw foods such as seafood, and before using the board for cooked or ready-to-eat foods or preparing another food item.
    • Sanitize cutting boards by rinsing them in a solution made of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of water - or run the plastic board through the wash cycle in your automatic dishwasher. Consider using one cutting board only for raw foods and another only for ready-to-eat foods such as bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and cooked fish.
    • Avoid using cutting boards that are made of soft, porous materials. Instead, choose those made of hard maple or plastic, and make sure they are free of cracks and crevices. Smooth surfaces can be cleaned more easily and thoroughly.

Cook seafood properly

Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 °F. But if you don't have a food thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done.

  • Fish: Slip the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pull it aside. The flesh should be opaque and separate easily. If you cooked the fish in the microwave, check it in more than one spot to help ensure doneness.
  • Shrimp and Lobster: The flesh becomes pearly-opaque.
  • Scallops: The flesh turns milky white or opaque and firm.
  • Clams, Mussels, and Oysters: Watch for the point at which their shells open, which means they're done. Throw out the ones that don't open.

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