Seafood Tour @WFMGreensboro

Whole Foods recently reached out to me, asking if I wanted a store tour with the local seafood monger. Private tour from the seafood monger himself? Um, yeah!
I met with Kel Baldwin, the seafood team leader here at my local Greensboro, NCstore. After a tour of the seafood department, Kel gave me the low-down on all things supermarket seafood.
Frozen vs Fresh
Youll likely see Previously frozen on seafood counter labels. We know that frozen seafood can be easier on the wallet, but I wanted to know how a seafood guru feels about fresh versus frozen.
Kel confirmed there is no difference in the flavor or taste of frozen versus fresh fish: The only place you may see a difference is in the texture. He mentioned that frozen seafood is affordable, can keep for up to 6 months and is easy to cook without thawing. (More about cooking frozen fish under Fish Safety.)
Fish Safety
Kel agreed that fish is a lot like houseguests starts to stink after three days. Use or freeze fresh fish within 2-3 days of purchasing. (Again, frozen seafood stays good for up to 6 months.) Apply the same rule of thumb for seafood you thaw at homeuse within 2-3 days.And, he was pretty adamant about how you thaw seafood: Thaw in the fridge, not under water. If you thaw fish under running water, youre going to be working with a product you dont know.
Thaw overnight in the fridge or skip the thaw altogether and bake, broil, saut or grill frozen fish. While Ive only ever baked frozen fish, Kel said frozen fish can also go directly into the saut pan. Just cook frozen fish for about twice as long as you would fresh or thawed fish and use a thermometer to ensure that the fish center reaches 145F. I learned that you can even bake frozen clams!
Healthy Made Easy
One thing I really loved about this seafood counter was the parchment-wrapped tilapia. Part of Whole Foods Health Starts Here program, the en papillote fish is one way that the storeand seafood crewtries to make it easy for customers to eat healthfully. Keep your eyes open for healthfully-prepped fish that makes it super-easy to pop into the oven or onto the grill.
Whole Fish
Kel sells a handful of whole fish each day. Want the moist, tender taste of a whole fish, without it staring at you? He says Whole Foods seafood mongers will prep the whole fish for you, the way you want it. One of Kels favorite aspects of his job is watching customers go from being unsure about how to cook fish at home to being excited about buying a whole.
So, dont be shy about asking the seafood team to prepare the whole fish the way you want to buy it.
Whats on His Grill
Since Kel was a former culinarian, I was curious as to whats been on his grill this summer. Hard-seared tuna and grouper, both are substantial and hold up well to grilling. And, oysters, shrimp skewers. My tail-gate parties are not like other tailgate parties.
Kel also shared one of his favorite snack-able seafood recipessmoked trout dip. Cut up smoked trout and add to sour cream, cream cheese, herbs and garlic. Serve with whole grain crackers or pita chips for an easy protein-packed snack, appetizer or party dish.
Tips from a Seafood Monger
When asked about his tips for budding home seafood cooks, Kel shared these tips.
o For the beginning cook, drizzle a little olive oil, course salt and freshly ground black pepper onto fresh or thawed fish and cook at 350F for 10 minutes total for every inch of thickness. Seriously, its that simple.
o Try pan-roasting. Preheat oven to 400F and heat a saute pan on stove. When pan is hot, add a high smoke-point oil, like canola or peanut. When oil is very hot, place fresh or thawed fish in pan and cook for 45 seconds. When it’s time to flip, place pan in oven to finish cooking, about 6-7 minutes total. Perfectly pan-roasted fish in less than 10 minutes!
o Dont overcook fish. Overcooking fish dries out the fish, causing it to have an unncessary “fishy” taste.
o Take advantage of cooking demos. Try new fish and see how easy and tasty it is! Kel pointed out Paiche from Peru. Its a white, fatty fish with mild taste and a meaty texture. In his words about Paiche:Mahi texture, halibut flavor. A great fish to pan-roast!
Catfish in a Blanket: Easy and Delicious!
And, speaking of cooking demos
Mara from Whole Foods was sampling Catfish in a Blanket on the morning I was visiting the store. Grilled catfish wrapped in a mini biscuit with scallions, cole slaw mix, mandarin oranges, teriyaki sauce and slivered almonds. Delicious, snackable and so easy she made it in less than 10 minutes! Check out her recipe here.
Kel and me his seafood counter.

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD