Seafood isn't just nutritious and tasty—in most preparations, it also cooks up remarkably quickly. That makes it ideal for those harried nights when all you want is a filling and flavorful dose of protein, in need of only a simple vegetable side (and maybe a glass of wine or two, because, harried!) to make a meal. With a little technique, a seared fish fillet or a pot of mussels makes for an easy dinner that still feels like a treat. The 22 seafood recipes we've gathered below, for dishes like salmon burgers, prosciutto-wrapped cod, and crab fried rice, are all ready in a mere 30 minutes or less.
The Easiest Crispy Pan-Seared Fish
Lots of people are intimidated by the idea of pan-searing fish, and I can't say I blame them—who wants to ruin those fillets they just ponied up for by immediately getting them stuck to the skillet? Our solution is to bread the fish on one side, which keeps it from sticking or overcooking and adds a nice crunch to contrast with the tender meat.
Easy Broiled Miso-Marinated Black Cod
Bold flavors and high heat make this recipe for broiled black cod nearly foolproof. Just marinate the fish in a mixture of miso, sake, and mirin, then broil it in the toaster oven until a skewer goes in easily. Because black cod turns tender and buttery rather than tough as it broils, there's little risk of overcooking it, and the Japanese-inspired ingredients in the marinade form a deeply sweet-and-savory coating.
Baked Cod and Summer Squash in Foil Packets
For a no-fuss approach to cooking cod, simply bake it in an aluminum foil parcel—if sealed properly, the pouch will allow steam to build up and gently cook the fish through. We add sliced yellow squash, zucchini, and onion right to the packet to complete the meal. As a bonus, this recipe is super easy to scale—it works as well for six people as it does for one.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Cod With Chorizo and Cannellini Beans
For those worried about overcooking their flaky, delicate cod, this dish offers a very happy solution: Wrap it in prosciutto. The meat will insulate the fish and, incidentally, add a ton of meaty flavor. We serve the cod with a hearty mix of cannellini beans and chorizo, all cooked in the same skillet. Who says seafood has to be light?
Thai-Style Cod à la Nage With Coconut Milk, Lime, and Lemongrass
À la nage may sound like a terribly fancy term, but it's just a method of poaching in a flavorful broth and is neither difficult nor time-consuming. The fish is only partially submerged in the liquid, so the top half steams, making this a very gentle cooking technique. For this intensely flavored Thai-inspired version, we use a broth of coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh chilies.
Halibut à la Nage With Clams, Dill, and White Wine
Clams, a traditional nage ingredient, go into this halibut variation. As the clams open, they release their briny juices into the cooking liquid, already flavorful with fennel, white wine, dill, and celery. The result is a broth that's a little like a clear chowder.
Salmon à la Nage With Summer Vegetables
This preparation shows off the more delicate side of nage, with the mild flavors of poached squash and salmon. We add a few aromatics, like ginger, tarragon, and lemon, but keep it subtle so it's really all about the fish.
Warm Couscous Salad With Salmon and Mustard-Dill Dressing
Dill, mustard, and salmon is a time-honored combination that gets a breath of new life when incorporated into a warm couscous salad. We stir fresh spinach, dill, and flaked cooked salmon into Israeli couscous just after it comes off the heat, so the spinach wilts and the salmon rewarms. It's dressed with a simple mixture of Dijon and lemon juice.
Easy Salmon Burgers With Dill Honey-Mustard, Horseradish, and Avocado
Salmon burgers ain't hamburgers, but that doesn't mean they have to be anything close to bland health food. Here, we make flavorful salmon patties with dill, onions, and horseradish and cook them very lightly to keep them juicy. Personally, I'd recommend making extra honey-Dijon mayonnaise—it's so good, you'll want to slather it on everything (especially bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll).
Pickled Herring Smørrebrød (Danish Open-Faced Sandwich)
Smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich, popular in Denmark, that's made by topping dense sourdough rye bread with butter, pickled herring, raw red onion, and dill. The butter is key here, mellowing out the tangy bread and the vinegary herring. Whip up a couple of our other smørrebrød recommendations and you've got yourself the beginnings of a real smorgasbord.
Easy One-Pot, No-Knife, Lighter Tuna Noodle Casserole
Maybe canned tuna isn't high on your list of elegant seafood options—and, okay, we might not go so far as to call this remake of the old suburban standby elegant, but it's the kind of dish that'll make you say, wow, I didn't really know this could be this good. We add tuna and frozen peas to egg noodles coated in a not-too-rich sauce, made with crème fraîche and lightened with a touch of lemon. It takes just 15 minutes, a single cooking vessel, and a couple of other basic kitchen tools, making it a great weeknight choice.
Shrimp Scampi With Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, and Herbs
The secret to getting this Italian-American classic right is using vermouth instead of white wine—wine takes too long to reduce, and its flavor becomes unpleasantly dominant in the finished dish. Peel the shrimp before tossing them in a baking soda brine, which ensures that they cook up plump and tender, with a healthy amount of snappy bite.
Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
Gambas al ajillo, a Spanish tapa or main dish of shrimp cooked in hot, garlic-scented oil, is strongly reminiscent of shrimp scampi, only it's usually served with heaps of warm, crusty bread instead of pasta. To maximize flavor, we infuse the olive oil with the shells before using it to cook the shrimp, and incorporate garlic three ways: grated into the marinade, infused into the oil, and fried up in slices as garnish for the final dish.
Quick and Easy Shrimp, Corn, and Tomatillo Salad
This summery salad starts with perfectly poached shrimp—which start with cold, not boiling, water. We flavor the water with lime juice and bring it up to no higher than 170°F (yes, you'll need a thermometer), a gentle treatment that helps to get the shrimp tender all the way through. Once they're cooked, we toss the shrimp with summer produce, like sweet corn and crunchy tomatillos, and dress the salad with more lime and extra-virgin olive oil.
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de Camarones)
Not that American shrimp cocktail is hard to make, but this Mexican-style version is even faster. Traditionally, you'd dress poached shrimp in a sauce made with lime juice and ketchup; replacing some of the ketchup with tomato purée keeps the sweetness to a reasonable level, and serving hot sauce on the side allows each diner to spice the dish to her liking.
Curried Coconut Noodles With Shrimp
With two powerful store-bought ingredients—yellow curry paste and coconut milk—this noodle dish comes together in just 10 minutes. Considering how quickly it's all done, the curry paste imparts incredible depth of flavor to the sauce. Start rehydrating the rice noodles before you cook the sauce, and they should be ready to use just as the shrimp turn opaque and tender.
The Best Seared Scallops
Making the best scallops starts with buying the best scallops—settle for nothing less than fresh "dry" scallops (as opposed to "wet" scallops, which are chemically treated to retain moisture). To get a good brown crust on the scallops without overcooking them, dry them thoroughly by salting and blotting them with paper towels, then sear them in a smoking-hot skillet.
The Best Moules Marinières (Sailor-Style Mussels)
Mussels may seem like a special-occasion dish, but they're relatively affordable and quick and easy to make, so why not introduce them into your weeknight rotation? Make sure to clean them well, then steam them in a fragrant broth—you'll want to sop that up with crusty bread later. For French moules marinières, we infuse the liquid with sweated shallots, spring onions, and garlic in dry hard cider; to make it rich and smooth for sopping up, we mix in homemade mayonnaise.
Mussels With Fennel-Saffron Broth
Once you've got the basic technique for preparing mussels down, try experimenting with different flavors. This bouillabaisse-inspired version is made with fennel, saffron, and tomatoes. To really highlight the fennel flavor, we also add dry fennel salami and a shot of Pernod.
Steamed Mussels With Thai-Style Coconut-Curry Broth
These mussels, steamed in a spicy broth flavored with curry paste, coconut milk, garlic, and shallots, are so quick to make, it's worth taking a little extra time to make the chili paste from scratch. But if that feels like a hassle, at least doctor up your store-bought green curry paste with a few special extras: garlic, cilantro stems, lime zest, dried Thai chilies, and coriander seed.
Thai-Style Crab Fried Rice
Thai khao phat buu is a great showcase for fresh crabmeat, though you can use frozen if it's more convenient. We keep the seasonings light—just a little fish sauce, salt, and white pepper—to let the flavors of crab and jasmine rice carry the dish. Garlic, Thai bird chilies, cilantro, and scallions add little pops of pungent, hot, and herbal flavor throughout.
Sautéed Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches With Pickled Vegetables, Cilantro, and Ginger-Chili Mayo
Crispy soft-shell crabs are perfect for sandwiches because all that delicious juice soaks right into the bread. We looked to Vietnamese bánh mì as inspiration for this sandwich, made with cilantro, quick-pickled carrots and cucumbers, and a ginger-chili mayonnaise. Sautéing the crabs keeps things simpler and neater than deep-frying.
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