10 Best Seafood Cookbooks That Will Help You Become a Better Cook

Does the thought of butchering a whole fish scare you? Perhaps, you walk by the seafood counter at your grocery store and see the beautiful shelled delicacies on the ice, but have no idea where to start! 

Using a cookbook from top chefs, Roy Yamagichi or Josh Niland can be very beneficial. Alternatively, there are several seafood guide books that make great reference books to add to your collection.

There are some amazing seafood dishes waiting for you to enjoy, but finding a cookbook that you can follow and that will help you through all the steps is important.  Let’s explore some of the many great seafood cookbooks available.

Why is a Seafood Cookbook Important?   

There are so many types of seafood to enjoy: shellfish, freshwater, saltwater, crustaceans, the list goes on. There are also so many ways to prepare seafood: frying, grilling, smoking, in soups, and even enjoying it raw. Add on to this, each country, state, and culture has multiple ways to eat seafood. 

Cooking seafood can seem like an impossible task, but thankfully there are some great cookbooks out there to help even the novice home cook. Whether you are needing the basics or looking for a certain type of fish, there is a seafood cookbook out there to help you. Where to start? 

The best place to start is finding a really good seafood cookbook that not only walks you through the recipes, but also guides you as to: how to buy the seafood, how to prepare it, and what to serve with it. Choosing a seafood cookbook that suits your needs is a great first step. 

What are the Best Seafood Cookbooks for Beginners? 

Pictures are worth a thousand words. If you are a beginner in the world of seafood or just cooking in general, you will want to find a good seafood cookbook that has step by step directions. Finding a cookbook that pairs the instructions with pictures of each step will be invaluable. 

Learning about the ingredients you cook with also helps you to become a better cook. Fish and seafood can be intimidating to some, but once you learn more about it, you will have the confidence you need to create a tasty dish.

Finding a seafood cookbook by a chef (or group of chefs) that live in a coastal region and are known for seafood dishes is another good idea. Doing a little research to find some great chefs is helpful, or, you can just look at the recommendations laid out below.

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

This great new cookbook by Josh Niland is an excellent one for both new and advanced cooks. The James Beard winning chef from Australia grew up in the kitchen and has a successful seafood restaurant and a fish market retail store. 

What Users Think

Users agree that the pictures in this cookbook are great and the information provided for cleaning and butchering is very helpful. Some say the recipes are more advanced, but others enjoyed the challenge and liked the modern take on classic dishes.

What We Think

This is a beautifully photographed and well written seafood cookbook, with recipes that cover dozens of different species. This seafood cookbook does a great job explaining the whole fish – how to source it, butcher it, prepare it, and cook it. 

With just over 60 recipes, there is a good mix of new and exciting techniques and dishes, along with classics like Fish and Chips. The way the chef explains about each fish is easy to follow and he is very relatable. This seafood cookbook would make a great purchase.

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2. Seafood Cooking for Dummies

Any book from the “Cooking for Dummies” series is a great cookbook to add to your library. There are always great instructional sections and the books do a good job of breaking down all aspects of cooking. Seafood Cooking for Dummies is no exception. 

What Users Think

User reviews give accolades to the simplicity and easy to follow writing style in this seafood reference book. Many even refer to it as an instructional manual. While the variety in types of seafood may be lacking, the overall knowledge provided makes up for that.

What We Think

This seafood reference book offers more of an instructional approach to seafood. Think textbook meets cookbook. The goal of this cookbook is to make cooking seafood more approachable to the average person. The layout of this cookbook is easy to follow and makes for interesting reading.

The variety in recipes may be somewhat limited, but you learn so much about handling and cooking fish that it serves as a good starting point for most. Keeping this one on hand is a good idea for a quick reference.

3. Gulf Coast Cooking: Seafood from the Florida Keys to the Yucatan Peninsula

The Gulf Coast is known for its bold and flavorful seafood dishes. There is a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater fish, crawfish, oysters, and shrimp found in the Gulf Coast region and an even wider variety in ways to enjoy them! 

What Users Think

Everyone agrees this is a must have cookbook for the photographs, as well as the stories provided. Several users claim this is the best seafood cookbook they have ever owned, saying the recipes are all fantastic. Covering a wide variety of fish, flavors, and cultures, this was a favorite amongst the reviews. 

What We Think

The photos in this Gulf Coast cookbook alone are worth owning your own copy. The beautiful pictures perfectly portray life living along the coast and the food that is served. 

Soulful recipes from well known restaurants and chefs making the thought of having their delicious seafood meals at home, more attainable. This cookbook is an excellent choice for those that are looking for this type of cuisine. 

4. Roy’s Fish and Seafood: Recipes from the Pacific Rim (A Cookbook)

Roy Yamaguchi, famous Hawaiian chef delivers another mouthwatering seafood cookbook that makes a great addition to your library. Hawaii is home to several species of fish, making Roy a great teacher in how to prepare them. 

His restaurants, Roy’s, focus on Hawaiian fusion with classic French techniques, as well as Italian and Japanese flavors. While that may sound scary to produce at home, his recipes are just an extension of what he grew up with and are well developed.

What Users Think

For those wanting to cook fish from the Pacific Rim, users agree – this cookbook is for you. Users express the variety in dishes and enjoy the flavors used. They also say the recipes, although seemingly more advanced, are easy to follow. Many are followers of Roy’s restaurants and therefore, love this cookbook. 

What We Think

This seafood cookbook not only has over 100 recipes for Hawaiian fish and seafood, it also has vast information for each species AND includes substitutes for these fish if you can’t source them where you live. 

Recipes for: tuna, sea bass, lobster, scallops, and many more can be found along with pictures to go along with them. Don’t let this cookbook scare you, it is truly a useful and well written cookbook for seafood lovers. 

5. The Fishmonger’s Apprentice: The Expert’s Guide to Selecting, Preparing, and Cooking a World of Seafood, Taught by the Masters 

Aliza Green is the chef and author of this great how-to guide for everything seafood. She is known for her instructional books covering topics for all different ingredients and cooking techniques. 

By getting input from other field experts, using their interviews, pictures, and very detailed instructions, she is able to help the home cook gain confidence. 

What Users Think

Users agree this is a great choice on how to select and prepare a big variety of fish and seafood. The information provided is very detailed and easy to follow. If you ever wanted to learn more about butchering certain types of fish, users say this book is for you.  

What We Think

Reading stories from industry fishermen, chefs, fishmongers, and more give great detail to everything about seafood. This seafood guide book offers incredibly detailed instructions for picking out the best fish at the market, skinning and fileting the fish, and cooking the fish in a variety of ways.

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Aliza Green does a great job providing tips and tricks for various fish and seafood. The layout of this seafood cookbook is easy to follow and interesting to read. This cookbook is great for any lover of seafood. 

6. Seafood Handbook: The Comprehensive Guide to Sourcing, Buying, and Preparation, 2nd Edition

This 2nd edition has been updated to include even more species of fish and seafood than the original. It is commonly used by professional chefs and fishmongers alike as a seafood reference guide. It’s like a seafood encyclopedia and even includes 2 posters for easy reference. 

What Users Think

This seafood textbook is commonly used amongst professionals and home cooks and they all agree – this is a must have. Anyone that enjoys fish, wants to learn more about buying and selling fish, or needs helpful information pertaining to the ocean and seafood will benefit from this book.

What We Think

This seafood handbook claims to be a reference guide for all things seafood: sourcing, varying species and their alternate names, cooking, and nutrition – and it definitely lives up to that claim. This comprehensive guide book to everything seafood is not only great for the home cook, it also gets used by professionals world wide.

When you understand the origin, flavor, and how to completely use a whole product it helps you as a cook to produce a delicious dish. This seafood handbook is a great tool for anyone looking to learn more about all the different fish and seafood.

7. Seafood Basics: 86 Recipes Illustrated Step By Step

This is a part of the ‘My Cooking Class’ series of cookbooks and provides the home cook with incredibly detailed steps with supporting pictures. It provides the reader with a how-to tutorial for each part of the fish and recipe, making the home cook feel at ease. 

What Users Think

Users agree that the detailed and step by step instructions provided in this cookbook are great. Many comment on the layout and pictures, saying that it is one of the easiest cookbooks to follow and also say it has given them confidence to cook seafood.

What We Think

This illustrated guide for seafood basics is a must have for the novice seafood cook. The pictures that accompany the recipes, show not only the completed dish, but also the steps along the way. This serves as a great teaching element for the beginner. 

There are 8 well thought out chapters in this cookbook, allowing for quick reference and easy to follow instructions. Everyone needs a “basics” cookbook for seafood and this book is it. 

8. The Magic of Tinned Fish: Tasty Meals with Sustainable Seafood

Not everyone lives by the ocean or other body of water with access to fresh seafood. Sometimes you need a dish using canned crab, sardines, or salmon that goes beyond the tuna noodle casserole. Learning new ways on how to use this pantry staple is a game changer and a novel idea.

What Users Think

Many users comment on the variety of recipes used for tinned fish and agree that it is a very creative and useful book. They also love the history given about the use of this underused ingredient.

What We Think

Many home cooks may snub their noses to the delicate tinned fish, but this ingredient can be so versatile and utilized in a myriad of ways. This seafood cookbook shows the reader over 75 recipes where canned seafood is either the star of the show or the supporting actor.

It provides new ideas, giving a dish, such as pork roast with mackerel sauce, new life. Being able to cook with tinned fish is a great skill to have and well worth the read.

9. Williams-Sonoma Collection: Seafood

Williams-Sonoma has been a trusted source for the home cook for decades. Some may think it’s just a homegoods or kitchen store, but the brand also has a full library of curated cookbooks. They have several different books about various regions and levels of cooking, all with easy to follow recipes.

What Users Think

Most of the users have several books from the Williams-Sonoma Collection, saying this is another great book to add to your collection. They trust the brand, knowing the recipes are always good ones. User reviews also comment on the pictures and ease of following along with the recipes.

What We Think

The book from the Williams-Sonoma Collection series ‘Seafood’ is an excellent source for the beginner. It has tips and techniques for basic recipes as well as elegant dishes. The cookbook also has beautiful pictures for each dish. 

The index list is easy to read and it is broken down into smaller chapters, making it easy to find the seafood recipe you want. Each recipe is a full meal, with a sauce and suggestion for a side. Most recipes have side notes that are interesting and make for good bonus content. 

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10. The Joy of Seafood: The All-Purpose Seafood Cookbook with more than 800 Recipes

The award winning chef, Barton Seaver, now known for his passion in sustainable seafood, presents an excellent seafood guide for any level of cook. Sometimes larger cookbooks can be harder to follow, but this one is an exception. 

What Users Think

The extensive amount of information provided and the layout of this seafood cookbook have users agreeing this is a fantastic book about seafood. Users love that the fish are listed alphabetically, making it easy to find what you are looking for. 

What We Think

With over 800 recipes, The Joy of Seafood may intimidate most, but this seafood guide provides an in-depth look at all things seafood. The recipes are geared towards a modern twist to American classics and covers more than 100 different species of fish. 

Recipes range from soups and stews, dips, sauces, complete dishes, and more. There are detailed yet easy to follow instructions making this a welcome addition to any home cooks shelf. 

How to Choose a Good Seafood Cookbook  

Choosing a good seafood cookbook can be a daunting task, let alone cooking the actual seafood! Sometimes it’s worth going into your local bookstore and browsing the books they have on hand. Or, if you are searching online, relying on user reviews can be helpful. 

If you can, try and find a book that reads well and you can understand. If there’s too much technical verbiage and not enough explanation, that can be hard to follow. The layout, content, pictures, and even price point are all things to consider when choosing a seafood cookbook . 

Content 

Sometimes the stories authors provide in cookbooks are nice, but can be hard to sift through when learning how to cook a new food. Cookbooks that are basic and straightforward are ideal for the novice. Pictures are a great tool, especially for visual learners. 

Also, look for variety in the recipes. For example, you may not want a book that deals solely on how to prepare lobster if you can’t get fresh lobster or don’t want to spend the money on it. Finding a book from your area or what you know you can find in the grocery store is a smart idea.

Price

Price is a big factor for some people. You don’t have to pay an arm and leg for a decent cookbook. Of course, if you are looking for a specific chef or type of seafood, you may have to pay a premium. 

Some good ways to save money when you are just exploring the newness of seafood are: 

  • Go to your local library to check out a cookbook
  • Borrow one from a friend or family member 
  • Head to a half priced or used bookstore 
  • Search different websites online that offer used books or may have good sales

There are plenty of good seafood cookbooks out there that won’t cost a fortune, but knowing some ways to get a good bargain may be useful.

Layout

The layout of the cookbook makes a bigger difference than you may realize. If it’s not organized well it can be hard to find certain recipes or pages. Also, a well laid out index makes for ease in finding recipes and ingredients. You don’t want to spend all of your time searching for something in your cookbook. 

Finding a seafood cookbook that is easy to read and follow along will help you become more comfortable cooking. A larger cookbook can be hard to sift through, but if it is divided into smaller chapters and sections, can provide a wealth of information.

Style of Cooking 

What type of cuisine are you most comfortable cooking? Is there a method you are wanting to learn more about? Thinking about the answers to these questions will help determine what type of cookbook you should be looking for. 

If you live somewhere that’s cold, maybe finding a seafood chowder and soup cookbook would benefit you. Or, perhaps you live along the Gulf Coast and want to explore the many styles of fish recipes that are known in that area. Once you pinpoint what type of food you like to cook, start looking for cookbooks that specialize in that area.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Seafood Cookbook

Once you find a seafood cookbook you like, you want to make the most of it! A good suggestion is to sit down and read it front to back at least once. Learning about the different species of fish, where to find them, what they taste like, and how to use them will help you feel more comfortable with the ingredient. 

Once you have more confidence with seafood, you will be able to easily follow the recipes. Also, knowing where things are located within the cookbook will help when you need to look up something for reference so you aren’t spending too much time trying to find it. Perhaps even taking notes will help you.

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Conclusion

Finding the right seafood cookbook for you doesn’t have to be a scary task. Ask yourself a few simple questions: 

  • What kind of fish can I get at the store?
  • What type of food do I enjoy cooking?
  • How much do I want to spend?

These are all great deciding factors and will determine what type of seafood cookbook to look for. It’s also helpful to read reviews based on user opinions to see if the cookbook was helpful for others. 

When you find the best seafood cookbook for you, read through it and take notes. Once you are ready, create your seafood masterpiece!