Howard L. Puckett

Sit down to sumptuous seafood in less than 30 minutes.

On the long list of reasons to love seafood, short cooking timemay be second only to irresistible flavor. Of course, there's alsothe impressive nutrition profile to consider: the heart-healthyfats, low calories, and all those studies that link fishconsumption with improved intellectual performance.

On a practical basis, fish means a fabulous meal on the tablewithin 30 minutes--using handy ingredients and simple cookingtechniques. That's what really inspires ardent seafood lovers.Follow these tips for success.

• Ask your fishmonger when the seafood was delivered. Ifit was that day, you can store it in your refrigerator for anotherday or two.
• Fish should smell clean and faintly of the ocean,lake, or river. If it smells like iodine, ammonia, or otherwisestrong, it's old.
• If you plan to cook the fish within two hours ofpurchase, leave it in the market packaging in the refrigerator;just before cooking, rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with apaper towel. Otherwise, go ahead and unwrap, rinse, and pat dry;line a plate with a dry paper towel, lay the fish in a singlelayer, then top with another paper towel. Store in therefrigerator.
• Rinse all shellfish, too, before cooking. If it willbe seared in a pan, be sure to pat it dry.
• Keep a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers on handfor removing as many bones as possible.
• All food continues to cook a bit after being takenfrom its heat source, so factor that in to the cooking time.

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