There are only a few weeks left to partake in a leisurely twilight meal, and we get it – you don’t want to spend them cooped up in a hot kitchen. This is where fresh seafood steps in. Seafood is your best friend in the waning days of summer – it cooks up in a flash (or doesn’t cook at all), and leaves you feeling light even in the stickiest of weather. Many seafood recipes, including the Crispy Salmon Succotash and Pan Seared Scallops, involve simply searing the fish or shellfish, a process that usually takes less than five minutes. There are a few easy tricks to master the technique: first, ensure that fish or shellfish is totally dry on both sides by patting it dry with a paper towel – this helps ensure you’ll get that beautifully crispy, golden crust. Then, get your pan nice and hot over high or medium-high heat (tip: sprinkle a drop of water on the hot surface to check its temperature; it should immediately sizzle and evaporate off the surface) before adding the oil. Sear the fish or shellfish for 2-3 minutes on the first side before adding a bit of butter to the pan and flipping the fish; but only cook the second side for about a minute to avoid overcooking.
If searing isn’t your bag, one foolproof method is to wrap and bake, a la the Banana Leaf-Wrapped Fish Veracruz. This essentially creates a mini steam bath for the fish in the oven, ensuring that it won’t dry out as it cooks. The result is fish that’s tender and aromatic throughout, and beautiful to present too. Of course, if it’s really muggy, take a page from a place that knows from tropical weather and avoid cooking the fish altogether. Ahi Poke is like a Hawaiian version of tartare, featuring high-quality ahi tuna steaks served raw with a wasabi-tamari sauce and a cooling avocado and cucumber slaw. It’s guaranteed to get you back to the things that really matter (i.e. eating with friends and family, preferably outside) in a flash.