Figuring out the amount of seafood you need for a particular dinner is quite tricky. The answer to the question of quantity for your meal are very individual to the people eating. Here I will try to break down the different factors in portioning your seafood dinner, so you aren’t wasting money on extra fish.
Number of Eaters:
The first and most obvious factor in deciding the amount of seafood you purchase is the number of people eating. As a rule of thumb, the recommended serving size of protein for an adult is around 8 ounces, half a pound, or a .50 on a butchers scale. Again, this is a rule of thumb, and I know all the gym dudes are saying “no way bro, I eat 12 ounces of protein every serving”. You know, that’s fine too. Like I said earlier, portioning is very individual. Usually I stick to the 8 ounce recommendation per person, so 16 ounces (1 pound), for 2 people, 24 ounces ( 1 1/2 pounds) for 3 and so on… Women may want to portion down a bit due to appetite, and sometimes a “his and hers” cut is recommended; this is where a 1 pound piece of fish would be cut into 2 pieces in .60/.40.
Age of Eaters:
Age is typically the next factor in gauging a portion of seafood for dinner. Children aged 7-12 will typically eat anywhere from 5 ounces to 8 ounces of food. Older adults, and elderly may eat close to the same amount. Parents know their children the best, so be aware of how much your children will actually eat. A Good Tip would be to cut the fish after it is cooked and served. This way everyone gets exactly what they want when they sit down to eat.
Type of Seafood:
Different seafood may need different portion sizes. For example, if you are buying clams priced by weight, it is difficult to predict how many you will get in 2 pounds due to the variance in size of some shellfish. I recommend buying in number and paying whatever the weight and price ends up being. For this, think about how many clams each person would eat and multiply by that. If you want to serve 3 people 10 clams each, 30 clams! Easy! For smaller shellfish, like mussels, you will get somewhere between 15 or 18 to 30 in a pound! Again, if you cant figure out your portions by weight, just tell your fishmonger a number that gives all of your eaters the right amount. Shrimp come in industry sizes such as U8, U15, 15-20, 21-25, and 36-40. This number reflects the number of shrimp per pound. “U” indicates you may get less, or “under” that number per pound. Knowing this, if you ask for 2 pound of 21-25 size shrimp, you will have anywhere between 40 and 50 pieces of shrimp.
When purchasing whole fish, the weight of the fish is not always a reflection of the amount of meat you will get off of the fish. As a general rule of the knife, you will yield close to 50% of the fish’s whole weigh in cleaned and prepped filets. What that means is if I filet a 16 pound salmon, each salmon filet will weigh around 4 pounds. If you decide to purchase a whole fish, understand that if you choose to filet it, you will only get back about 50% of what that whole fish weighed. Each fish has different ratios as well; some fish have bigger heads, or smaller areas to cut filets from. If you cook the fish whole, and pick at the meat you will be able to get more meat from the fish, but you will have to work harder!
Hopefully this clarifies some of the questions of portioning your fish and shellfish for your next seafood dinner. Portioning may take a while to get right, and it will change through the years, and even maybe through the season. The consumer is the most knowledgeable when it comes to what sizes are correct for them. Eat well!
Filet To Table