There’s a very fine line between flaky, tender fish and the overcooked stuff you’re more likely to find at a sad seafood buffet. The same is true of lobster and shrimp, which are sweet and succulent when cooked properly. Left a little too long in poaching liquid or creamy pasta sauce, they become tough and stringy and lose their flavor.
When the stakes are so high—and the protein so expensive—sous vide is an ideal cooking method. If you aren’t yet a pro, it’s quite easy to get started and with the right machine, you’ll never have to face overcooked seafood again.
Overcooked lobster is an unpleasant and expensive mistake. And with traditional steaming or boiling methods, it’s quite easy to push the succulent meat just a few degrees too far. Sous vide will allow you total control over the meat’s final texture and help concentrate buttery flavor into the lobster as it cooks.
Shrimp isn’t as difficult to properly cook as lobster, but every once in a while we still find ourselves letting it go just a moment too long. Nailing that perfect cooking temperature can still be a challenge. Our sous vide method infuses the shrimp with aromatics while it cooks, and our guide to cooking temperatures will help you choose between translucent, opaque, or more traditional poached-texture shrimp—never overcooked.
Firm yet flaky, with a slightly meatier texture than most white fish, halibut is one of our favorite proteins. It cooks more like a steak than a fillet of fish—it should be well-browned with a nice crust on the outside and juicy and tender within. To achieve that perfect combination, we sous vide the fish and finish it in a hot pan with butter and aromatics.
Sous vide might as well have been designed for cooking tuna. With so much control over final doneness and texture, you can achieve nearly raw, firm and moist, meaty, or—if you’re into it—even crumbly canned-style tuna.
Years after figuring out how to cook most other fish, I still struggled with salmon. Sometimes, even after developing a crunchy, browned crust, the fish was still raw. Other times it was cooked past the point of no return. Sous vide takes the guess work out of it, resulting in buttery-soft, tender salmon.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.