When we hear people talk about seasonal foods, most of us conjure up an image of watermelon in the summertime or winter squash in the fall and winter months. Many of us don’t give much thought to seafood seasons. While not all seafood has a seasonal limitation, most do. Before you plan your next succulent seafood dish, let us take you through our guide to purchasing your favorites during their seafood season and why it's essential. We'll also help you stock your racks with the best seasoning and pair the perfect herbs and spices with a few of our favorite tips along the way.
The Importance of Seafood Seasons
Seafood seasons may be natural or influenced, fixed or flexible. Migration and environmental factors play a role in the season of many seafood options, while some are human-made decisions. Some states even designate legal restrictions for individual species, dictating their seafood season for catch and consumption. So, why should the seafood season matter to you? Like all seasonal foods, you want the best selection, so your meal and side dishes are fresh, delicious, and cost-effective.
Seafood Freshness and Availability
Selecting your favorite fish and shellfish during their seafood season provides you with the freshest options on the market. During the peak of each seafood season, their abundance provides you with exceptional flavor, a variety of options, and affordable pricing. When you select your fish and shellfish during their seafood seasons, your choices are less likely to incur hefty transport costs to stock your grocers year-round while undergoing possible repetitive freezing and thawing during the process. Purchasing during seafood seasons also gives seafood novices a fantastic opportunity to introduce their palate to various seafood options throughout the year, when their favorites may not be in season.
Seasons Effect Sustainability
Choosing to cook with in-season seafood allows fish and shellfish time to replenish. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind while you search for a tasty seafood recipe to try, but it’s a necessity. Our waters provide roughly five billion pounds of seafood a year. Americans consume an annual average of over sixteen pounds of seafood, leading some to believe we’re heading for a severe seafood shortage before 2050. Enacting responsible fishing guidelines to help prevent overfishing while purchasing during seafood seasons will significantly support fish and shellfish' sustainability.
What is the Best Season for Seafood Favorites?
When is the best time to prepare your recipes for each of your favorite fish and shellfish? Let’s take a look at some of our seafood favorites and when you can expect their seafood season.
If you’re a crab lover, you’re in luck. Crab can be a year-round pleasure, without a definitive seafood season. The primary crabbing season runs from October to January, when crabs are done spawning and are in abundance. Some areas continue to crab through mid-July, while other areas begin their crabbing season from April through the end of November when crab is inactive. Other areas, including Florida, have a year-round crabbing season.
Think of the last time you had sweet, delicious king crab meat. Chances are, your meaty meal was during king crab’s peak fishing season, between October and January.
The typical Canadian snow crab season runs from April through the end of November. You’ll be able to find Alaskan snow crab through the summer months.
Although shrimp are readily available year-round, it is typically due to frozen stock. Generally speaking, the shrimp seafood season in gulf states extends from spring through summer, yielding delicious flavors. Availability and price for most shrimp, including the popular white shrimp, are best during March through early August. You’re more likely to find larger shrimp in the gulf during the "off-season" shrimp months of November through February, but they’ll come with a higher price tag too. Knowing your shrimp seafood season will help you avoid pricey shrimp.
Delicious, fresh lobster is the best and most abundant in the summertime. If you’re fortunate enough to live near New England, you’ll have the luxury of fresh lobster tails all year.
Salmon is another excellent year-round seafood selection. If you are in search of salmon in its peak season, you’ll love wild salmon during the late spring to summer months. The peak Alaskan fishing begins during May and runs through August.
Cod has a reasonably long seafood season, beginning in March and running through November. While December through February aren't peak seasonal months, you'll still find a decent selection of cod, making it an excellent choice for year-round dishes.
Halibut is nearly year-round, with the beginning of its seafood season around early to mid-March through mid-November. We highly recommend enjoying Alaskan halibut at its peak freshness from mid-April through September.
Snapper is also an excellent seafood option for your fish recipes, as it is readily available all year.
This delicious fish has its peak seafood season during the spring and summer months. Enjoy experimenting with your delicious Mahi-Mahi recipes from April to September.
Yellowfin spawn about every three days in various areas, making them relatively abundant everywhere and a great year-round option. You'll typically find their peak seafood season in the Gulf of Mexico from July through November.
Pairing Your Seafood with the Best Seasonings
If you’re a novice, preparing your seafood dishes may seem a bit intimidating. While you’ll find many cooking methods, tips, and recipes throughout our site, we also want to provide you with a bit of seasoning knowledge and our best seasoning secrets before you get started. Seasoning fish and shellfish are not as simple as adding a few shakes of your go-to salt and pepper. You want to pair your seafood with the best seasonings to create flavor-enhancing dishes. Following are our favorite seasoning tips and tricks we know you’ll love.
Top 5 Must-Have Herbs for Any Seafood Recipe
Let’s start with your basics – the best seasonings you can’t live without and should keep on hand for your fish or shellfish. You can never go wrong with these five herbs in your seasoning cabinet.
We recommend using bay leaves with your more delicate-tasting fillets. Bay leaves have a scent that helps bring out the flavor in fish like tilapia and cod. It’s also the best seasoning addition to any seafood chowder recipe or fish stock soups you may be making, providing a clove-like aroma. Once you finish preparing your soup or dish, remove your bay leaves to prevent their flavor from intensifying as they continue to cook.
Dill is another favorite we don’t think any seafood lover should be without. Dill is a basic yet necessary herb for your seafood seasoning rack. It adds a delicious and familiar flavor to many of your fish dishes and creates sauces you will be able to use with a variety of your recipes. It’s one of the best seasonings you can have on hand when creating seafood recipes.
Parsley should already be in your herb collection, but if not, we highly recommend you stock up for seafood recipes. It's even simple enough to grow at home if you're willing to try your hand at an in-door herb garden. Either way, it's a must-have when cooking seafood dishes.
Chives are perfect for so many recipes, and there’s no doubt that seafood and chives pair incredibly well. Chives add a hint of sharpness to the dish, much like a mild onion. Chives are one of the best seasoning additions in your seafood sauces, butter, and marinades, for both appeal and aroma. Blend with a bit of lemon and garlic to bring out the flavors of your whitefish and scallops.
Sage is an excellent herb to have on hand for several reasons, but you shouldn't use it excessively. The earthy taste and distinct aroma pair beautifully with fish recipes when you’re careful not to let it overpower the fish. Try freezing or cooking your sage to intensify its flavor and create the best seasoning blend possible.
Additional Herbs That Pair Well with Seafood
There are many additional herbs and spices we highly suggest keeping around for your fish and shellfish dishes. Some of the best seasonings are likely part of your collection already. Whether you’re preparing halibut fillets, shrimp scampi, or a fabulous seafood side dish, you’ll be glad you took these suggestions to heart when you taste the difference they make.
Garlic is one of the best seasonings - a must in every household for practically every dish. With seafood, we use both powdered and minced garlic often. It's a wonderful addition directly to your seafood or for use in your sauces, butter, and seafood chowders. You can't go wrong with a shrimp scampi dish full of garlic or a garlic-heavy lobster seasoning blend.
While there are several varieties of basil, we believe experimenting can never lead you astray. From Thai basil to sweet basil, this herb will help enhance the flavors of any fish you prepare. Most recipes call for the use of crumbled basil to provide a sweet yet minty scent. Pairing your basil with garlic, rosemary, or thyme makes some of the best seasoning blends for our whitefish and cod recipes.
If you’re a fan of oregano, you’re sure to love seasoning with this herb. Marjoram will provide your seafood with a bit of a sweet and slightly less mild flavor than that of oregano. If you’re unfamiliar with the herb, it is part of the mint family, giving it a touch of citrus flavoring and adding to the flavors for your seafood. We think you’ll find it will soon become one of the best seasoning secrets in your kitchen.
And, speaking of mint, you can never go wrong keeping this lovely herb in stock. We know some of you may be wondering why mint is one of our highly recommended herbs for seafood dishes. Trust us – it’s one of the best seasoning tips for fish. Simply put, mint has an innovative way of toning down the fishy flavors of some of your overpowering fish, such as salmon and adding a hint of tanginess when pairing with the right seasonings. Be mindful of how much you use, as it can overpower your dish and take away from your seafood's flavors.
As with any dish, rosemary brings a wonderful aroma to your seafood. We recommend experimenting with both dry and fresh rosemary for additional flavor outcomes in your dish, as this fresh herb will yield a slightly citrus flavor. Rosemary is one of our favorites when we are trying new recipes, especially new salmon seasonings. It’s another best seasoning treasure we use in our seafood dishes.
Pair thyme with other herbs to give your seafood recipes a very fragrant and slightly floral flavoring. While it is excellent in seafood soups, keep in mind that the longer your thyme cooks, the more powerful its flavor becomes.
Best Seasoning Blends for Your Favorite Seafood
While it ultimately comes down to personal preference, you do need to start somewhere. Our years of experience come down to a few mouth-watering seasonings blends we think are a must-try for your seafood meals. Try out a few of these best seasoning secrets on your next recipe:
While we love a good salmon rub, starting slow is the way to go if you’re a novice. Traditionally, salmon’s robust flavor pairs well with more savory spices and herbs. Pair your filet with salmon seasonings, including rosemary, garlic, thyme, and oregano. As you develop a taste for the blends you are using as your salmon's seasoning, build upon your recipe each time you experiment with a new dish.
If you are new to fish, whitefish offers a light, mild flavor that most prefer to introduce their palate. As you become more accustomed to whitefish, we recommend stepping up your seasonings with savory or even spicy blends. Don’t be afraid to pile on the garlic and cajun spices to create a bold dish. Whitefish is also famous for breading and pairs well with your Italian seasonings. Either of these best seasoning tips will enhance the mild flavorings of your whitefish.
While most people tend to shy away from creative lobster seasoning, we are all for enhancing its buttery sweetness with a few spicy or savory blends. If you can handle the heat, try a lobster seasoning blend of cayenne pepper, salt, garlic, and lemon. This delicious mix is one of the best seasoning tips and will add a nice twist to your usual drawn butter, lemon, and light lobster seasoning. But if you still prefer a more subtle taste, we are huge butter and sage fans for an incredibly warm, aromatic flavor.
You’re ready to take on your favorite seafood and prepare your mouth-watering meals. Order now, and you'll have fresh seafood delivered to your door and ready for a feast in a matter of days!