Melina Hammer's Go-To Recipe Ideas for the Freshest, Punchiest Summer Seafood

Melina Hammer's Go-To Recipe Ideas for the Freshest, Punchiest Summer Seafood


When the warm weather hits, seafood brings verve and ease to everyday eating. Not only does seafood feel impressive, it also doesn’t ask much in the way of cooking (which means more time for you to enjoy with friends and the great outdoors). Bonus: Oftentimes, another fish can easily be swapped for what’s noted in a particular recipe, bringing a greater variety of delicious options your way.

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I like to ask the fishmonger at my local grocery or specialty market’s fish department for what’s freshest, but generally, choose whatever looks best: firm, shiny flesh is a good bet. Unless you’re preparing a whole fish, there usually isn’t too much prep to be done, plus you can always ask your fishmonger to give you a hand with deboning or filleting. And while it’s true fresh fish and seafood can come with a hefty price tag, there’s nearly always a choice that is budget friendlier, like cod, mussels, or trout.

Here are some of my favorite ways to cook seafood during the summer months, from seared scallops with bright snap peas to crispy quinoa crab cakes.

Knockout Seared Tuna Salad

The bright, juicy sweetness of cherries is perfectly offset by meaty, seared tuna steak. Paired with the crunch of fennel and pistachios, it makes a delectable dish.

Wild Salmon & Fried Sage Gremolata

This recipe appears in A Year at Catbird Cottage and it is a celebration of flavors, made with a few simple ingredients. Sear the salmon and the lemon, and—presto—you have a dynamite meal that is perfect for gatherings, or one you can pull from over a few days.

Scallops & Sugar Snap Peas With Miso Mustard

Searing scallops is quick work, making this recipe perfect for a last-minute meal that’s impressive enough for company. Adding seasonal snap peas to the mix imparts an extra layer of sweet crunch, all of which get offset by a punchy miso-mustard sauce.

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Divine Shrimp Salad

This recipe comes together in just a few minutes and can be eaten warm or chilled, so it’s a great candidate for a picnic. The technique is basically a sauna for shrimp: They cook from the residual heat, which ensures they are juicy and tender.

Portuguese Seafood Stew

This stew’s aromatic broth and the addition of a few simple ingredients, such as potatoes, fennel, and tomato, creates a dish that feels much greater than the sum of its parts.

Seafood Salad

Simply add seafood to pasta as it finishes cooking and you’ve got a dish that can be eaten chilled or at room temp, feeds a whole gang, and incorporates a medley of textures, colors, and flavors.

Grilled Shrimp With Herby Garlic Bread

Punchy marinade ingredients (hello, garlic and red pepper flakes) impart brightness to juicy, grilled shrimp. The remaining mixture gets slathered on toast for a quick garlic bread for a decadent-feeling dish that comes together in less than 15 minutes.

Grilled (or Broiled) Oysters with Sriracha Lime Butter

Grilling and big flavors go hand-in-hand—here, the richness of butter is foiled by tangy Sriracha and citrus. The result? A spicy, zesty twist on your standard grilled or broiled oysters.

Grilled Red Snapper With Cara Cara Oranges & Chiles

This impressive-looking grilled whole fish gets a finishing garnish of fresh citrus and a shower of herbs.

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Salmon Rubbed With Cumin, Coriander & Fennel Seeds

A spice rub makes salmon extra dreamy. Eat it hot or cold, on pasta or with a bright salad…this classic combination is infinitely versatile.

Creole-Seasoned Seafood Boil

There are few things more quintessentially summer than a good crab or crawfish boil. Trusty Old Bay seasoning does the work of figuring out what aromatics to use, and delivers a flavor-packed feast.

Samke Harra (Lebanese Spiced Fish), Featuring Porgy

Create flavor layers by seasoning fish before roasting, then add a sauce, chock-full of bright ingredients and hearty texture to offset the tender bake.

Crispy Quinoa Crab Cakes

Stretch sweet, lump crabmeat with quinoa and make a tray of crispy cakes. After sizzling in the pan for a delectable crust, serve with a lemony caper-flecked creamy sauce.

Le Bernardin’s Crispy-Skinned Fish

Once you nail the method, there are infinite ways to pair crispy skin fish: Nestle a filet onto a bright-and-crunchy salad, serve atop creamy risotto, or pair with roasted veg.

Fried Crab Stick Crackers

Skip the chips and make crackers with budget-friendly imitation crab. The resulting umami crunch will be your new favorite party snack.

What’s your go-to summery seafood recipe? Tell us in the comments below!

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