With three Nor’easters in the books and rumblings of yet another snow storm on the way, summer seems so far away, but Memorial Day will be here before we know it. We got some expert seafood shopping and cooking tips from Executive Chef Josh Sauer of Avenue, the oceanfront brasserie in Long Branch NJ that’s also home to a seasonal beach club, Le Club.

Here’s his advice about what to look for when buying fresh fish, how to correct the common mistakes folks make when cooking fish at home and his guide to preparing the ultimate summer seafood delicacy, the lobster roll:

Shopping: Josh recommends buying fish whole from a reputable source aka a fishmonger whose shop is busy and/or has a known reputation. Look for fish whose eyes are clear (not milky or cloudy) with gills that are red, never brown. Touch the skin—it should bounce back and the scales should be intact without flaking off. And the smell should slightly sweet and briny (almost like that of a cucumber) but not stereotypically fishy.

Cooking: Josh says “the two biggest mistakes people make when cooking fish is not drying the meat and not heating up the pan enough. Make sure your fish is dry by patting it down with a paper towel so when you pan-sear or grill it on high heat, you get a really nice, crisp sear.”

The Perfect Lobster Roll: “Pick out a lobster that’s 1-1.5 pounds. If a lobster is too large, two pounds or more, the meat is tougher. Cook the lobster whole and for the lobster roll, use all the meat—claw, tail and knuckle. At Avenue we make a spicy mayo dressing with harissa, a touch of espelette pepper and lemon juice. Lightly toss the lobster meat in a spicy mayo, serve in a brioche roll with arugula on the bottom.”

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