How to slow cook seafood
It’s time to break out those crock pots or Instant pots and get to the slow cooking! The best way to ‘set it and forget it’ with seafood.
Best Seafood for Slow Cooking
There are a few culinary rules when it comes to slow cooking seafood and we’ll cover those to keep you slow cooking safe…but first…the best seafood for the crock pot.
You want something a little meatier for the crock pot. Firm, not so delicate pieces that wont overcook too quickly and get tough while cooking low and slow. Shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab meat (added at the very end) round out the shellfish options. With salmon, tuna, cod, rockfish and swordfish rounding out the fish option.
Rule #1 Fish Cooks Fast
Fish and seafood will cook very very quickly, even if the temperature is just at a simmer.
The best advice is to add your seafood (especially for stew-like recipes) towards the end, about 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to eat- that way nothing over cooks. For larger cuts, like fish, portion them into smaller pieces for a more even cooking experience.
You can still let your flavors meld throughout the day, especially if you use seafood stock as one of your liquid ingredients. Just add your seafood in last.
Rule #2 Simmer, Don’t Boil
Boiling is doom for seafood, causing it to either break up or get tough and chewy. Keep your slow cooker setting on low, simmering, for the best seafood crock pot outcomes.
Rule #3 Stews, Soups, Casseroles and Chowders…Oh My!
These are always my favorite (and frankly the best) slow cooked seafood options: the soups, stews, chowders and casseroles- The recipes that work really well slowly cooking for most of the day and developing maximum flavor. Even slow cooked pasta sauces are a joy to make in the crock pot! Just make sure rules 1 and 2 are followed 🙂
Rule #4 Slings for Steams
Steaming in your crock pot, especially the Instant Pot, is an easy set it and forget option. Maybe not so much in the ‘slow cooking’ category but worth an honorable mention in our rules to live by for crock pot success.
Following the directions on your device for steaming, I also recommend adding a sling. A steamer sling can be a piece of parchment paper or trivet that you can use to easily lift your seafood from the cooker without breakage or damage.
Rule #5 Cook Clams and Mussels Separately
Shelled clams and mussels are fabulous, but unfortunately don’t work well in the crock pot. There is not enough cooking action to force open the shells, although there is enough heat to cook the contents. What you’re left with is rubbery work.
For your chowders, stews and the like…it is best to cook fresh Chesapeake Bay shellfish ahead of time or separately and add them to the dish before serving.
Rule #6 Know Thy Slow Cooker
Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. And each slow cooker tends to be slightly different from the last.
Test your cooker before diving into a recipe, I do this with just some water. See how long it takes to preheat (preheating is required for all recipes, trust me). How hot does the cooker get on low, medium and high? How hot does ‘keep warm’ get (be careful of the keep warm setting, it may overcook your goods). The perfect temperature for slow cooking is between poaching temperature (160°F-180°F) and simmering (180°F-195°F), boiling is no good (212°F).
Buy Seafood Online-and slow cook good seafood at home!
All of the seafood listed in these slow cooking 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.