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Swap In Surf for Turf to Add More Seafood to Your Diet

October 29, 2021

For a healthier diet, substitute seafood for the conventional proteins in classic American fare.

Salmon and egg breakfast tacos. Salmon and egg breakfast tacos are a delicious seafood swap for any time of day! Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood.

We at NOAA Fisheries can think of plenty of reasons to add more seafood to your menu. But let’s talk more about what’s in it for you—literally! Seafood is a healthy source of the protein you need to get through the day. Fish and shellfish contain less saturated fat and sodium than many meat and poultry products. Some fish are also high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (“fish oils”) that are good for your heart, brain, and immune system. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend switching up your sources of protein regularly to include two to three servings of seafood per week. 

Wondering where to start? We’ve helpfully compiled several ways to add more seafood to your family’s diet. Cooking seafood can be quick and simple or a culinary adventure. Already planning your next Taco Tuesday, movie night with pizza, or Saturday cookout without seafood in mind? It’s not too late to adapt your menu! You can swap conventional fillings, toppings, or patties out for a healthy and tasty seafood alternative. Check out the following “seafood swap” recipes from our partners for inspiration!

Tacos: Take a Seafood Taco Tour

The options for seafood tacos are so vast that they probably deserve their own story. An open tortilla is just so accommodating! Our Seafood Taco Tour presents just a sampling of ideas with recipes featuring seafood from each U.S. region. Depending on what’s available near you, you might even swap out the seafood swap with a different fish!

For a weeknight dinner, you can prepare homemade taco garnishes like salsa in advance. Then sauté white fish or shrimp in the pan just before you’re ready to serve. (Some variations recommend seasoning or marinating the seafood first.) You needn’t limit yourself to dinner, either—try salmon and egg tacos for breakfast! For these, roast the salmon in the oven and then enjoy it either hot or cold in tacos topped with warm scrambled eggs.

> Greater Atlantic: Striped Bass with Creamy Guacamole

> Southeast: Shrimp Tacos with Watermelon Salsa

> West Coast: Blackened Rockfish Tacos

> Alaska: Salmon and Egg Breakfast Tacos

> Pacific Islands: Fresh Mahi Mahi Tacos with Hearts of Palm Salsa

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Fish tacos with creamy guacamole.
Switch up your taco night to feature fish tacos topped with creamy guacamole. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant/Vanda Lewis.

Pizza: More Seafood Pizza, Please

With a pre-made pizza crust, you can get creative with your toppings to incorporate healthy, hearty U.S. seafood into your dinner. For an easy new place to start, try topping sandwich thins with pesto, pre-cooked baby shrimp, and cheese. Or sprinkle canned tuna over tomato sauce mixed with taco seasoning.

Many people are familiar with clams only in chowder, but they can taste great on pizza too! This recipe for White Clam Pizza is a take on a New England specialty. Finally, as with tacos, pizza can adapt to showcase whatever seafood you have available. Sauté flaked fish with classic Italian seasonings before spreading on pizza crust and baking to finish.

> Shrimp Pesto Pizza

> Tuna Pizza Olé

> White Clam Pizza

> Seafood Pizza

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Everyone’s heard of anchovies, but other seafood can make for tasty pizza toppings as well. This White Clam Pizza is a take on a New Haven, Connecticut specialty.
Everyone’s heard of anchovies, but other seafood can make for tasty pizza toppings as well. This White Clam Pizza is a take on a New Haven, Connecticut specialty. Photo courtesy of Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

Burgers: Swap to Salmon and Beyond

Burger patty alternatives take many forms, but the go-to seafood version is decidedly salmon. Combine flaked fresh, frozen, or canned salmon with panko, Dijon mustard, and other seasonings to form salmon burger or slider patties. (For a gluten-free version, use rice crumbs and eggs.) A different take on salmon burgers evokes Thai cuisine with red curry, Sriracha, and pineapple! 

> Summer Bounty Salmon Burgers

> Salmon Sliders with Rosemary Lemon Aioli and Pickled Onion

> Gluten-Free Oven Baked Salmon Burgers

> Thai Style Salmon Burger

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Salmon burgers are a classic seafood alternative.
Salmon burgers are a classic seafood alternative. Photo courtesy of Washington Sea Grant/Abby Rogerson.

Though salmon usually steals the spotlight, most fish can be swapped into patties and served on buns. The "Fishermen's Burger" is a burger recipe for any flaked fish. You can even try shrimp instead of fish! The key to shrimp burgers is building in time to chill the patties in the refrigerator and freezer before throwing them on the grill. 

> Fishermen’s Burger

> Shrimp Burgers with Sweet ‘n Spicy Tartar Sauce

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This Fishermen’s Burger is a straightforward way to swap in any flaked fish.
This Fishermen’s Burger is a straightforward way to swap in any flaked fish. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant/Vanda Lewis.

Swap Sustainably

The nutritional benefits of sourcing more of your protein from seafood go mainly to you (and your dinner guests). But seafood swaps are also healthy for the planet. Seafood, whether farmed or fished, has among the lowest carbon footprint of any protein on the planet. And if you make a point of selecting seafood caught or grown in the United States, you know it was also sustainably sourced. It’s subject to some of the most rigorous management in the world. 

Find more recipes for the U.S. seafood you love on FishWatch. Want to learn more about seafood but don’t know where to start? FishWatch also arms you with the facts about what makes U.S. seafood sustainable—from the ocean or farm to your plate. Get up-to-date information on the status of harvested marine fish and farmed fish, and learn more about U.S. seafood.