Best Seafood Cookbook (From Classic To Contemporary)

Seafood’s got a reputation for being intimidating to cook and difficult to prepare.

And although there's millions of free recipes online and the internet can be a great resource (hello youtube!) you can never really beat a good book.

They provide a definitive source of information and a collection of tried, trusted, and mouthwatering recipes written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about.

And the best ones often become lifelong companions, their torn ingredient stained pages a testament to an enduring friendship.

Their easily pulled off the kitchen shelf, no need to get out your mobile, power up your iPad, or pull up google.

best seafood cookbook

And when picking the best seafood cookbook your choice comes down to where you are on your cookery journey and exactly what you're looking for.

Are you just starting out with fish cookery and looking for a few tried and trusted recipes to get going? Or are you a more experienced cook looking for a bit of inspiration.

Do you want to learn to cook lots of different species of fish? Or are you more interested in the technical aspects of fish cookery? Would you like to learn how to prep and fillet? Do you love shellfish? Or are you just after some solid food porn?

Whatever your interest or ability we’ve got you covered with our ultimate list of some of the best seafood cookbooks ever written.

And to kick things off we’re starting with a subject that should be close to everyone who loves seafood’s heart........Sustainability.

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Best Sustainable Seafood Cookbook

Good Fish: 100 Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast

Becky Selengut ❙ 2018 ❙ Paperback & Kindle ❙ 336 pages ❙ 100 recipes ❙ ISBN: 1632171074

If you want to cook sustainable seafood but worry that what you're buying down the market is harming the planet and the environment then this book would make a great addition to your collection.

Divided up into 3 sections, shellfish, finfish, and small fish. Becky explains how to shop for and prepare each type, there then follows about 5 or 6 recipes for each.

There's a total of 15 sustainable species covered including mussels, squid, halibut, salmon, arctic char, trout, and crab.

Many of the recipes are designed to appeal to the home cook with the focus on handy weeknight dinners as well as some more advanced dishes for special occasions.

So you could try your hand at a classic hang town fry, crab mac and cheese, or coffee and spiced rubbed salmon tacos with charred cabbage, mango salsa, and avocado cream. 

All the recipes are rated based on their difficulty from one being easy and quick 🐟, to 🐟🐟🐟 being more difficult with harder to find ingredients and a longer prep time.

About The Author

Becky Selengut is a chef, cookery teacher, and seafood advocate living in Seattle.  Her recipes and writing has been featured in Seattle Homes and Lifestyles and Edible Seattle magazines. Good Fish is her 3rd book. She’s also the author of How to Taste and Shroom: Mind-Bendingly Good Recipes for Cultivated and Wild Mushrooms.

Verdict: Easy to read with nice color photos, 100 sustainable seafood recipes is a very informative and down to earth book. The wine pairings for the recipes by sommelier April Pogue are also a nice touch, especially if you're like me and a bit clueless in such matters.

The only downside is that the book, like the title says, is that it only deals with sustainable fish from America's pacific coast. And all though there are recipes for mussels, clams, and oysters which would be considered sustainable worldwide, you really need to check if the other fish used in the recipes are ok to eat where you're from.


Best Seafood Cookbook For Beginners

Foolproof Fish: Modern Recipes for Everyone, Everywhere

America’s Test Kitchen ❙ 2020 ❙ Hardback & Kindle ❙ 384 pages ❙ 198 recipes ❙ ASIN: B07VD1QTTQ

If you’ve never cooked a piece of fish before then foolproof fish would be a great book to start you off on your seafood cookery journey.

A good portion of the book is given over to teaching readers about the different types of fish and the methods used to cook them. 

A chapter called everyday essentials covers all the major fish cookery techniques. 

Pan searing, roasting, poaching, broiling, baking, and steaming are just a sample of whats covered. With the aim of building confidence and avoiding the most common fish cookery mistakes like sticking, overcooking, and fish falling apart.

The rest of the book contains the recipes and there's a total of 198 covering 23 different fish and shellfish species. 

Chapters include easy weeknight dinners. Soups, stews, chowders, sandwiches, and tacos. As well as grilled fish, special occasions, and small plates.

So you can try your hand at nut crusted cod fillets, a classic fish and chips, or go for a more adventurous whole roast snapper with citrus vinaigrette.

About The Author

America's test kitchen is located in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s a 15.000 square foot kitchen and studio space which houses 60 enthusiastic cooks who test kitchen equipment, recipes, and produce award-winning cookbooks and TV shows.

Verdict: Foolproof fish is a great book for budding fish cooks. There's plenty of easy and delicious recipes for lots of different fish which helps build confidence and motivation to cook more seafood.


Best Seafood Cookbook For Recipes

The Joy of Seafood: The All-Purpose Seafood Cookbook with more than 900 Recipes

Barton Seaver ❙ 2019 ❙ Hardback ❙ 496 pages ❙ 900 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-1454921981

Yes, you did read that right! The Joy of seafood contains a whopping 900 recipes for nearly 100 different types of fish and shellfish species.

Starting out at Abalone and taking you right through the alphabet to wreckfish the book covers every species in between including all the usual suspects like cod, salmon, mussels, shrimp, and lobster. As well as some of the more unusual species like jellyfish, sturgeon, and lionfish. Basically, it’s the complete A to Z of every species that inhabits American waters.

And there are recipes for all of them too, so you can give a classic bouillabaisse or cod sandwich a try. Or go more adventurous with a braised sturgeon in spiced coconut broth or a Mediterranean jellyfish salad.

But the joy of seafood isn’t just a recipe book there's also chapters on how to buy, prep, and store seafood. Cooking equipment, pairing wine, sauces, stocks, soups, and stews. As well as sections on all the major cookery techniques. So, its a complete seafood reference book for the home chef.

About The Author

Barton Seaver is an award-winning chef and sustainable seafood advocate. After a long career in the restaurant industry, he left to pursue his interest in sustainable food systems. He has written several books on sustainable seafood including For Cod and Country, Two If By Sea, and Superfood Seagreens, He’s also a contributor to many publications including the New York Times and the Washington Post

Verdict: There's no glossy photos and it's not food porn so the joy of seafood might not be for everybody. But the book is a solid encyclopedia of knowledge for anyone interested in fish and shellfish cookery. Comprehensive and concise there's tons of recipes and something in it for even the more advanced fish cook.


Best Seafood Cookbook By A Celebrity Chef

Passion for Seafood

Gordon Ramsay ❙ 1999 ❙ Hardback ❙ 224 pages ❙ 100 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-0753726822

Gordon Ramsay is a chef who needs no introduction so we’ll be forgoing the about the author section this time.

And although this book was first published well over 20 years ago the recipes still seem as fresh as ever.

Which is a testament to the man's talent as a cook and culinary innovator, whatever you think of his public persona and foul mouth.

While we’ve all lost count of the number of Michelin stars Gordon has won this book is aimed at the home cook and is designed to teach the basics.

It starts out with a quick guide to buying and choosing the freshest fish before moving on to how to prep, skin, and fillet. 

There's then a chapter on basic recipes which is an absolute gold mine of information. Here Gordon gives us the lowdown on how to make sauces, stocks, vinaigrettes, and flavored butter that go with seafood. Sauce Thermidor, olive oil hollandaise, gribiche, Vierge, harissa, and sea urchin butter are just a taste of this chapter.

The remainder of the book contains the more involved recipes and is divided up into soups, salads, starters, risottos, pasta, dinner party, and homestyle fish to give you just a small idea of what to expect.

Verdict: A soon to be classic seafood cookbook, with great recipes that work, and beautiful photos that will make you want to give the dishes a try. Recipes vary from ridiculously easy fennel and cod soup to a more difficult red mullet and pepper terrine. So there's something here for everybody no matter your skillset in the kitchen.


Best Grilling Seafood Cookbook 

Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked

Karen Adler & Judith Fertig ❙ 2002 ❙ kindle, hardback & paperback ❙ 416 pages ❙ 300 recipes

Cooking outdoors on a naked flame requires a different set of skills and poses a whole new set of problems especially when it comes to seafood, fish, and shellfish.

Luckily Karen and Judith are true grill masters and here they serve up 300 diverse recipes for a whole host of fish and shellfish. Trout, amberjack, whitefish, tuna, shrimp, squid, and scallops are just a small sample of some of the tasty grilled treats you’ll soon be cooking up on the bbq.

Some of the more stand out recipes include grilled tuna with fresh peach and onion relish, salmon with Tunisian spiced vegetables teriyaki, and stir-grilled mahi-mahi, and tequila-lime grilled shrimp

But this book isn't just about grilling, there's also chapters on smoked fish and shellfish, side dishes, and a great section on marinades, rubs, sauces, glazes, and salsas.

You also get a quick rundown on all the equipment you need to successfully grill and smoke delicious fish. As well as a guide on how to prepare your catch for the bbq, and learn how to gill fish in a healthy and nutritious way.

About The Author’s

Karen Adler and Judith Fertig are Kansas city food lovers and members of an all-female barbecue team known as the queen bees. This is their second book. Adler is the previous author of the best little grilling cookbook while Fertig's other title is Prairie Home Cooking.

Verdict: There's lots of BBQ and grilling cookbooks on the market, however, most of them deal with meat and you’d be lucky to get a couple of token fish or seafood recipes thrown in somewhere along the line. This book contains a massive 300 recipes for smoked and grilled fish. So it's a must for fish grillers. The only small criticism is that there are no photos. 


Best Seafood Cookbook For Chefs

The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think

Josh Niland ❙ 2019 ❙ Hardback & Kindle ❙ 256 pages ❙ 60 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-1743795538

Hailed by Jamie Oliver as a ‘mind-blowing masterpiece’ and by Renĕ Redzepi from Noma as ‘an inspiring read’ the whole fish cookbook takes fish and seafood cookery to a whole new level.

Winner of 2 James Beard awards in 2020, the whole fish cookbook aims to change the way we think about seafood and explores what happens if we treat fish the same way we would meat.

The book examines concepts like dry-aging, butchery, and nose to tail eating. Then explains how, when, and why they can be applied to seafood.

Divided into 2 main parts the first section of the book (the knowledge) covers stuff like sourcing, storage, and fish prep / butchery. Before moving on to Josh’s more advanced concepts like dry-aging, curing, and treating fish like meat.

The second part are the recipes which are divided up by cooking method. And include recipes for raw, cured, and pickled seafood as well as poached, fried, grilled, baked, and roasted fish.

There's even a couple of desserts at the end if you fancy trying your hand at a vanilla cheesecake with john dory roe biscuit or fish fat chocolate slice.

About The Author

The whole fish cookbook is Josh Niland’s first book. Having honed his skills for 15 years under some of the world's best chefs including Steve Hodges and Heston Blumenthal he opened his first restaurant, Sydney’s Saint Peter’s in 2016 to much critical acclaim. 

In 2018 josh opened the fish butchery which sells dry-aged, cured, and smoked fish to both the retail and wholesale trade. The following year his restaurant was shortlisted in the world's best restaurant awards ethical thinking category.

Verdict: The whole fish cookbook is a really interesting read and contains some cool recipes and stunning photography by Rob Palmer. However, I don’t think it’s a book that's best suited to the home cook who just wouldn't have the time, space, or expertise to tackle some of the more advanced concepts like dry-aging.

If however, you're a pro chef or restauranteur who's looking to up your fish cookery game then this book is a real inspiration. And the one thing everybody should take from this book is the nose to tail aspect and the fact that we should be eating more of the fish we catch than just the fillets.

As Josh says himself

'I don’t understand how the 40-45 percent (or, more to the point, the 50-55 percent waste) that chefs are thought to expect around fish to yield can be accepted globally'

And you’ve got to admit that with so many species facing sustainability issues he’s got a point.


Best Seafood Cookbook - Rick Stein

Fish & Shellfish

Rick Stein ❙ 2015 ❙ Hardback, paperback & Kindle ❙ 352 pages ❙ 120 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-1849908450

No list of the best seafood cookbooks would be complete without a title from Rick Stein. The well-known chef, restauranter, food writer, and TV presenter from Great Britain needs no introduction on this side of the Atlantic.

Now in his 70’s Rick has been at the coalface of the restaurant business running his seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall for well over 40 years. And I can remember first seeing him cooking up fish on the TV back in the ’90s when I was a teenager.

He's a man who subscribes to the kiss (keep it simple stupid) method of seafood cookery and as he says himself...

‘nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish simply cooked’

The author of countless cookbooks, fish and shellfish is his latest title, and as you'd expect it's full of great recipes for simply cooked seafood. 

All the classics are there like sole meuniere, fish pie, and lobster ravioli. Along with international dishes like monkfish vindaloo and sashimi of salmon, tuna, seabass, and scallops. As well as more advanced recipes for salmon en croute with currants and ginger and sea bass baked in a salt crust

Originally written to help students at his cookery school the book has been updated to include alternative fish for each recipe with the aim of taking the pressure off the more popular species to help conserve stocks. And like most fish cookbooks there are also chapters on buying, preparing, and cookery techniques.

Verdict: A great read and with delicious mouth-watering recipes. This is one fish cookbook that you’ll actually use and find yourself returning to again and again.


Best Seafood Cookbook for Food Porn

Restaurant Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw ❙ 2015 ❙ Hardback & Kindle ❙ 304 pages ❙ 80 recipes ❙ISBN-13: 978-1472953186

Located in a beautiful cliff-top location overlooking a bay in Port Isaac Cornwall, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is the only fish restaurant in the U.K with 2 Michelin stars.

In this book, the acclaimed chef brings to life 80 of the most popular dishes he developed during his career working for some of the best chefs in the industry like Rick Stein, Gary Rhodes, and John Campbell.

Unlike other fish cookbooks which are often broken up by ingredient or cookery method, this one has 2 chapters for each season both early and late where Nathan pairs the best available seafood with other ingredients which are in season to produce interesting flavour combinations.

A taste of just some of the recipes from early spring include cuttlefish fritters with wild garlic soup and pickled herring, rye, and rhubarb ketchup.

While desserts like malted orange profiteroles with bitter chocolate sauce and lime tart, meringue, and roast banana ice cream show that Outlaw is no slouch in the pastry department either.

Each recipe is accompanied by stunning photography from David Loftus and there's also a section of basic recipes where the chef provides the building blocks of stocks, sauces, and vinaigrettes.

Verdict: All the recipes in this book are of fine dining restaurant quality food, produced and plated by a chef at the top of his game. And the simple yet stunning photography for every dish makes this a great coffee table book. Some of the recipes require lots of ingredients and might be a bit too tricky or time-consuming for a lot of home cooks. But it’s nevertheless a great book to take a bit of inspiration from, especially some of the cool flavor combinations.


Best Seafood Encyclopedia 

Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking

Mark Bittman ❙ 1999 ❙ Hardcover & paperback ❙ 544 pages ❙ 500 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-0028631523

With quick-cook recipes, you can rustle up in about 30 minutes, made with easy to find ingredients you can get down at your local supermarket, Fish by Mark Bittman is a book aimed squarely at the time-poor home cook.

Organized in a handy reference format from A to Z there's 500 recipes for over 70 species of fish and shellfish.

With easy to follow illustrations, each species gets its own little chapter giving a description of what it's particular characteristics are, how to buy & prepare it, as well as a few recipes to try.

The main aim of the book is to educate readers on how to buy good fish and cook it simply and swiftly in any number of diverse and delicious ways.

But it’s a lot more than just a recipe book and there's also chapters on basics & staples, preparing & cooking, and selecting fresh fish along with a great section on health and nutritional info (something that's often overlooked by other books)

Verdict: An ideal read for anyone looking for some great information on fish and some tasty uncomplicated paired back recipes to try. Each dish has seafood front and center as the star of the show. It’s not a book of restaurant recipes by a celebrity chef that have been adapted for the home cook. And as a result more advanced chefs might find some of the recipes a bit too elementary.

About The Author

Mark Bittman is the author of over 30 acclaimed cookbooks including the how to cook everything series and food matters. For 20 years he was the chief contributor to the New York Times Sunday magazine. In 2015 he was made a fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, he’s teaching at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, editing Heated, an online food magazine, and writing a book about understanding food.


Best Classic Seafood Cookbook

The Seafood Cookbook: Classic to Contemporary

Pierre Franey & Bryan Miller ❙ 1986 ❙ Hardcover ❙ 296 pages ❙ 300 recipes ❙ ISBN-13: 978-0812916041

When it was first published way back in the ’80s this book was way ahead of its time. And it very much reflects the culinary trends of the era and the move towards a lighter and fresher approach.

Gone are the heavy rich soups, sauces, and stocks. There are no long-winded or complicated recipes. Instead, the focus is on mixing up classic french technique with innovative and tasty ways to cook fish as quickly as possible. All of the recipes can be whipped up in under an hour and many in less than 30 minutes.

The book is organized by cookery technique with each getting its own chapter. Baking, roasting, grilling, poaching, and braising are just a sample of some of what's covered.

The recipes include classics like oyster stew, salmon mousse, and fillets of flounder with parsley and mustard sauce. Or you could give something more modern a go like a tuna carpaccio with ginger and lime.

The book also contains many of the chapters you’d expect in a seafood bible and topics like buying, storing, and filleting are all well covered with over 100 illustrations on cleaning fish and preparing the likes of squid and shrimp.

Verdict: Although this book was first published way back when I was a boy in small trousers the recipes are still relevant in today's fast-paced world. With quick, easy, and delicious dishes this book would make a nice addition to your collection.

About The Author

Pierre Franey was a well-known chef best known for his cooking show the 60 Minute Gourmet, the book by the same name, and his column in The New York Times. A world war 2 veteran from Burgundy in France he published over 15 cookbooks and sadly passed away 10 years after writing this classic in 1996.


Best For Shellfish

Shellfish: The Cookbook

Karen Barnaby (editor) ❙ 2008 ❙ paperback ❙ 224 pages ❙ ISBN-13: 978-1552859254

If you're like me and love your shellfish and want a book that solely concentrates on delicious crustaceans and tasty mollusks then this could be the title for you.

Chapters are organized by species and all the popular varieties are covered including oysters, clams, mussels, crabs, scallops, lobsters, shrimp, and prawns.

Recipes are modern and innovative including the likes of seafood hotpot with saffron aioli, scallops with apricot butter, and potato kale, and oysters soup.

Verdict: Well written with clear and concise recipes. If you love your shellfish this book will give you a nice bit of inspiration, a couple of classic recipes, and some new flavor combinations to try.

About The Author

Karen Barnaby is a Vancouver based chef and heads up the kitchen of the award-winning fish house restaurant. Her other titles include Halibut: The Cookbook, The Low-Carb Gourmet, Pacific Passions Cookbook, Screamingly Good Food, and The Passionate Cook.


Best Seafood Cookbook For Science Nerds

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

Harold McGee ❙ 2004 ❙ paperback, hardcover & kindle ❙ 896 pages ❙ ISBN-13: 978-0684800011

Ok, so this isn’t a cookbook in the traditional sense of the word, and you won’t find any recipes in it. It isn’t even really about seafood at all.

What it is though is an encyclopedia of culinary science that everyone who’s serious about improving their skill in the kitchen should have on their bookshelf.

In just the fish and shellfish section alone there are over 70 information-packed pages where McGee talks us through all the science behind seafood explaining all the different species and cooking techniques. 

Topics like choosing and handling fish are covered along with refrigeration and the importance of ice, seasonality, cooking times and temperatures, preservation, salting, smoking, and fermentation is just a small taste of this chapter

And if you ever wanted to know why careful cooking can make your fish mushy, what happens when you apply heat, why some fish dry out faster than others, or why some species of shellfish glow in the dark than this is the book for you.

Verdict: Updated since it was first published way back in 1984 with a completely revised text that has been expanded by ⅔ and over 100 brand new illustrations this is a must-read for anybody with an interest in cookery. Get it.

About the author

Harold McGee has worked with some of the most innovative chefs of our time like Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal. He lives in California where he writes about science and cooking.


Best Seafood Story

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Mark Kurlansky❙ 1988 ❙ paperback & kindle ❙ 294 pages ❙ ISBN-13 : 978-0140275018

All the seafood we eat has a story. What ocean it came from, how it was caught, cooked, and ultimately how it ended up on our plate.

And none has a more interesting tale to tell than cod. Served in the finest restaurants around the world and on street food stalls everywhere it's a fish most of us have eaten at some stage.

Winner of James Beard award in 1999 this is the complete history of the one species of fish that influenced the world, had wars fought over it, and became the poster boy for overfishing and depleted stocks.

Verdict: Containing 6 centuries of recipes from classic chowders and brandad to the more unusual cod tripe and stewed tongues, This title might not be for everybody and you probably won’t try any of the recipes once you realize what an endangered species cod is. But it's a fun fascinating read for anybody who really loves seafood.

About The Author

Mark Kurlansky has penned many fascinating food stories including salt, a world history, and the last fish tale. A best-selling New York times author he’s also won Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award Book of the year and the James Beard award for his writing.


Best Fish Cookbook - A Few Final Things To Think About

Images

These days well-composed, glossy, and interesting photos are an integral part of cookbooks. They can help you envisage the end product and you can actually imagine yourself cooking up the recipes.

But when it comes to the best fish and seafood cookbooks don’t get too hung up on them. 

Some of the best cookbooks ever written can be a bit light on photography. Mainly because they were written in a different era or because they contain such a vast amount of recipes that taking photos of them all would be impractical.

Classics like the joy of seafood by Barton Seaver, Fish the complete guide by Mark Bittman, and The Seafood Cookbook: Classic to Contemporary by Pierre Franey are good examples.

All of them are great books with tons of information and excellent recipes but a bit light on images. But don’t let that put you off because they'd make a fabulous addition to any collection.

And if good photos are really important to you, just pick another title from our list.

best fish cookbook

Trusted Authors

Cookbooks are supposed to be works of non-fiction. Full of facts and recipes that have been tested and actually work. 

So, it’s really important that they are written by someone who knows what they're talking about. Especially with fish being a little bit more tricky to cook than other types of food.

All of the authors on our list are real seafood enthusiasts. Chefs and food writers with years of experience and picking any of the above titles won’t see you far wrong.

But if you think I missed anybody or you have a favorite fish cookbook with groundbreaking, interesting, or tasty recipes you use over and over again then let me know. 

I’d love to check it out and put it on my wish list.

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