The beauty of eating seafood is threefold: there are tons of fish and shellfish to choose from, so you never eat the same thing, they can be served plain or seasoned with almost any type of seasoning, and they offer a wide range of nutritional benefits. For example, fish is the main dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids: nutrients linked to brain health, reduced risk of heart disease, and more. Generally, seafood is a great addition to your diet. But that’s only if you know how to choose the right types.
When it comes to selecting your seafood, you want to make sure you’re choosing quality. The same goes for ordering from a menu at a seafood restaurant. While these companies offer a plethora of dishes ranging from shrimp and crab to trout and salmon that may seem tasty, not all dishes will not be Grade A meals.
For example, one of the most popular seafood soups you can order, clam chowder, contains lower quality ingredients. Specifically, clam chowder almost never uses fresh clams and relies heavily on canned clams. “[Clam chowder] may be considered the lowest quality menu item in a seafood restaurant because clam chowder is sometimes made from canned clams,” explains Rusty HansenProfessional chef at Hunters Feast.
Although there is nothing wrong with using canned ingredients (in fact, there are many benefits to eating canned foods), the reason canned clams are considered a bad ingredient quality, in this case, is that evidence has shown the presence of a harmful chemical. in the cans.
In a July 2022 finding by the Food and Drug Administration, as reported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), canned clams were shown to have high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one common members of a group of toxic substances, man-made “eternal chemicals” known as PFAS, which slowly break down over a long period of time. The chemical is also considered “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence that it is linked to the risk of testicular and kidney cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
PFOA levels were so high in one brand’s canned clam product that the company issued a voluntary recall in response to the findings.
Based on the high levels of PFAS, the FDA has warned people to reduce their canned clam intake to no more than 10 ounces per month; however, the government body also noted that seafood, as part of a healthy diet, “provides many nutritional benefits which, for children, include brain development and immune system strengthening, and for adults, benefits for heart and bone health, as well as helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers,” so you don’t need to completely cut seafood from your diet.
Using canned clams isn’t the only reason you might want to skip the soup. Chef Hansen goes on to say that the other ingredients in clam chowder, namely flour, potatoes and cream, are present in large quantities, completely eclipsing the clams. Chef Hansen goes on to say that what this means for the cup of chowder is that there is no real clam meat in the mix. He also states that the clam chowder also contains a lot of potatoes and is very “thick and heavy”. All in all, not a quality soup you would want to sip.
Now that you’ve skipped the soups section of the menu, you might want to move on to appetizers, because there’s one item that veteran chef and current CEO of Griddle King, Michael Eastthinks there’s another food to avoid in a seafood restaurant: fried calamari.
“Personally, one of my favorite seafood dishes to cook has always been calamari,” he begins. “When I make it myself, I take great care to make sure the squid is cooked through and that it doesn’t come out all chewy and chewy. I also season the batter carefully to give the dish some depth. of flavor, rather than being a bowl of bland, brown food.”
Although this is the token method for preparing a fried calamari dish, Chef East says it’s not the way all restaurants do it.
“Every time I order this item from a restaurant, it seems like the chef hasn’t taken these steps to make sure the calamari tastes really good. It always seems to be undercooked, leaving the calamari rubbery, or too cooked, in which case the dough is much too hard and crispy.”
But despite the poor preparation and occasional lack of flavor, old habits die hard, as East says he still orders this item quite often.
“While I wouldn’t say this is the worst seafood menu, it’s definitely the one most chefs seem to get wrong, in my opinion.”
Kayla Garritano is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and earned a double minor in Marketing and Creative Writing. Learn more about Kayla