Oven Baked Seafood 101 or How to Cook Seafood in the Oven
Baking in the oven is a classic means of cooking up great seafood. Here we’ll give you the skinny on how to make great dishes, a la oven, quickly and deliciously.
Why should I bake my seafood?
There are a few reasons behind the baking boom but my favorite reason is temperature control. This way you are less likely to overcook or undercook your seafood, being that your oven is less likely to fluctuate in temperature vs. pan searing, frying or sautéing. Also, so many ovens have a convection option now-a-days, giving for more even cooking thanks to the air flow.
Chef Tips: If convection baking, it is best to reduce your oven temperature by 25°F than what the recipe is suggesting for a conventional or still oven bake.
Best Seafood for Baking…
There really is no wrong answer here…all seafood works well baked in the oven. These following suggestions are just a handful of the most popular options…
Baked fish is probably the most popular of the popular options. In the baking scheme-of-things, think of fish as the captain of the football team or one that has the most followers on Instagram.
Top contenders are salmon, tuna, rockfish, mahi, cod or swordfish- the thicker fish fillets. Even though I am no stranger to baking tilapia, flounder or trout. I find these more delicate fishes are best baked stuffed, rolled or tucked, making for even cooking and less likely for them to overcook and dry out.
Fish Bake Time: Typically 10-12 minutes, unstuffed. 15-20 minutes stuffed.
Shrimp are the speedy oven baked seafood option, best deployed when you’re time crunched. Peeled or not, these little wonders pack great flavor and work well in a number of baked seafood recipes.
Shrimp Bake Time: Typically 8-10 minutes, unstuffed. 10-15 minutes stuffed.
For the fancy bakes, lobster is king! A treat for the ages and a seafood ingredient that may have just as many baked recipes available as all of the fish category combined. A delicious addition for your oven.
Lobster Bake Time: Typically 15-20 minutes, unstuffed. 20-25 minutes stuffed.
Not just for pan frying or deep frying. Crab cakes are great baked as well! Especially fitting for those trying to reduce their fat intake or avoid the deep fried treats.
Crab Cake Bake Time: Typically 10-12 minutes for larger cakes, 5-8 minutes for smaller cakes.
Flavor= Fat+ Seasoning+ Acid
Now that we’ve established what seafood works best baked, now it’s time to build flavor. And that must come from 3 different sources: fat, seasoning and acid.
Fat…One of the great benefits of baking is the need for less fat than stove top cooking. Key word here is less not none. Fat takes on a number of duties while baking: keeping the seafood moist, melding the flavors and aiding in caramelization (those lovely golden brown flavorful bits). Healthy fats work well: olive oil, ghee, avocado oil or grapeseed. As well as the, ‘we love them regardless’ fats like butter (mmmmm butter).
Seasoning…Seasoning is used to enhance the flavor of your baked seafood recipes. It can be something as simple as salt and pepper or something as exotic as za’atar spice. Seasoning can also include fresh herbs (best added at the end of the baking process) like basil, chives, tarragon, dill or parsley. Or aromatics like: garlic, cumin, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, fennel, etc… (best added before the baking process).
Acid…A word that sounds so harsh but does a very delicate balancing act. Acid balances the other flavors as well as cleanses the palate between bites. Depending on the dish you’ll want to vary your acid additions. Heavier dishes like lobster thermidor might need just a little squeeze of lemon before serving. While light dishes might benefit heavily on acid for their flavor, think salmon piccata.
Buy Seafood Online-and cook good food at home!
All of the goodies listed in these oven baked seafood tips are available at our online store. As we say, ‘from shore to door, 3 days fresher than the grocery store’-all of our seafood is delivered right to your door when you schedule it, guaranteed! That’s convenience you need, especially for meal prepping and planning.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron's Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.