Seafood Buying Guide

Seafood comes in many varieties and can suit any budget or taste. This seafood buying guide outlines your options and will help you decide what to look for when shopping.

Seafood 101

Seafood encompasses both fish and shellfish, and includes cod, salmon, skate, crab, shrimp, clams, escargot, lobster and more. With so many different types to choose from, it's easy to create tasty seafood dishes for everything from casual lunches to extravagant dinners. Tuna sandwiches, clam chowder and full-on lobster feasts are just a few of the many seafood meals your family might enjoy. Seafood cooks faster than most meats, making it a great choice for weeknight meals. It typically has a mild flavour that works well with just a few herbs and a little seasoning. Most seafood is a source of lean protein, low in saturated fat and high in heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  

Types of Seafood



Fish is not only delicious, it’s also extremely versatile. You can broil a salmon fillet for one or two, whip up a tuna salad for the family lunch or grill a large, fresh-caught fish to feed a large gathering. Frozen fish fillets are an affordable option and are great for sautéing, grilling or broiling through the week. Mild-flavoured fish like halibut, tilapia and haddock pair elegantly with fresh herbs and simple spices. When shopping for fresh fish look for clear eyes, vibrantly coloured skin, firm flesh and a clean, slightly briny (not fishy) scent. Fish is high in protein, low in fat and features heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.


Juicy, succulent shrimp adds a fancy flourish to a weeknight stir-fry or a gourmet appetizer course. They’re more affordable than their crab and lobster relatives, but have a similar texture along with a slightly sweet flavour. There are many types of shrimp, most of which are easy to prepare. Rock shrimp is an exception due to its hard shell and larger size, but it's great for broiling and grilling. Shrimp is the ultimate quick and easy meal because it cooks in just minutes, even the frozen variety. To save prep steps, buy fresh or frozen shrimp that’s already peeled and de-veined. Fresh shrimp should have a mild, slightly briny scent and feel firm to the touch. 


Whether you choose to bake, steam or sear, scallops are fast and easy to cook. If you're trying to win your kids over to seafood, scallops are a good place to start thanks to their appealing fleshy texture and slightly sweet, mild flavour. They come in two common types: sea scallops are larger and delicious when lightly seared in butter or oil; bay scallops are smaller and typically used in soups or salads. Sea scallops can be a bit pricey, especially when bought fresh with the shell on. Bay scallops offer a lower cost and faster prep time.


Clams are related to mussels and oysters, but tend to be slightly smaller. They're best bought live in their shells. Like all shellfish, clams should smell clean and slightly briny, with shells that are firmly closed or close when touched. Clams have a chewy texture and slightly salty taste, making them a great flavour addition to a tomato, white wine or cream sauce served over pasta. For an extra shot of flavour, cook the clams in the same pan that you make the sauce to retain the juices. 


Oysters are a unique treat that lends itself well to an appetizer course. Raw oysters on the half shell are a popular choice: they can be “slurped” down on their own or flavoured with a squeeze of lemon and hot sauce. Oysters should be bought with their shells on and feel heavy when you pick them up. Shucking, or splitting open, the shell of a raw oyster takes a bit of effort and can be tricky, so be sure to learn the proper technique. Your family will appreciate the freshness and flavour of this seafood treat. For those who prefer cooked seafood, Oysters Rockefeller is a sumptuous, buttery affair that will delight all participants.  


Lobster has a light, delicate flavour and slightly chewy texture that’s prized for entertaining and special occasions. Fresh lobster is traditionally cooked in a pot together with whole potatoes and corn on the cob. Although lobster has a reputation for being a bit pricey, it's become more affordable in recent years. It's also become more widely available and, in its frozen form, can be purchased year-round. Prepared lobster tails make a quick and delicious meal when broiled or sautéed with a touch of garlic butter, parsley and lemon. Lobsters come in a variety of colours, from greenish-blue to brown, but they should always cook up to their signature bright-red colour. 


Squid, which is also known as calamari, has a chewy texture and mild flavour. This Mediterranean favourite can be prepared in a variety of ways. You can lightly bread and fry calamari rings for a tasty appetizer course, or lightly sauté them and pair with a white wine or tomato sauce for the main dish. If you buy squid whole and fresh, you’ll need to clean out the insides and remove the ink sac. The ink is considered a delicacy and can be used to make a rich, jet-black risotto or pasta sauce. Pre-cleaned and pre-cut squid is easier to cook and is often more affordable.


Octopus is similar to squid, though slightly more affordable. Compared to calamari, it's chewier but can be prepared in many of the same ways, such as lightly frying it or adding it to pasta sauces. A popular Mediterranean first course is octopus served raw, thinly sliced and marinated in olive oil and spices. 

Seafood Buying Tips:

• Seafood should smell fresh, mild and like the sea
• Seafood shouldn’t feel mushy
• The water and juices around seafood should be clear, not white

Seafood Safety & Storage Tips:

• Refrigerate fresh seafood as soon as possible after purchase
• To extend the freshness of refrigerated seafood, store it in an ice-filled container
• Fresh seafood should keep in the refrigerator no more than 2 days
• Frozen seafood should keep for up to 3 months
• Keep seafood wrapped and away from other foods to prevent cross-contamination
• Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and small children under 6 should eat less than 2 servings of fish a week and avoid fish that’s high in mercury (e.g., swordfish, ahi tuna and marlin)

Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh seafood tastes great, but it costs more than frozen seafood and also has a much shorter shelf life. Frozen seafood can be stored in your freezer for months, ready to be thawed whenever you need it. The quality and taste of frozen seafood has also greatly improved in recent years, primarily as a result of flash freezing minutes after capture. 
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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