In the West, Clark says, you can’t go wrong with these three delicious, responsibly harvested picks. And don’t discount frozen seafood. If it’s flash-frozen at sea, says Clark, “it can often be better than fresh.”
Dry-packed (or “natural”) sea scallops. Wet-packed scallops are injected with a preservative; snow-white and wet, they steam instead of browning. Dry-packed, on the other hand, are additive-free and a pinkish coral hue, and brown beautifully. Season: Year-round (avoid in late spring, after they spawn). Wild scallops are good alternatives.
Spot prawns. Named for the white dots on their shells, spot prawns are sweeter and more delicate than other varieties. “You won’t need to mask their flavor with cocktail sauce,” says Clark. They’re sometimes available fresh and live, but frozen headless ones are easier to find. Season: Late spring through summer.
Sablefish (black cod). “It’s a great ‘starter’ fish: rich, buttery, lovely,” says Clark. “And it’s hard to overcook.” A small number of fish have a hard-to-detect enzyme that turns them to pudding when cooked; ask your purveyor to reimburse you if this happens. Season: Year-round; order ahead if your fish market doesn’t stock it regularly.