Skip to main content

And the Science Says: Seafood Consumers Want Recipes

sauteed soft crabs with fresh lime_Vanda Lewis

Above: Sautéed soft crabs with fresh lime. Find the recipe on Mariner’s Menu. Photo by Vanda Lewis.


Katie Mosher, communications director,
Barry Nash, seafood marketing specialist,

Amid stay-at home orders, people are cooking more meals in their own kitchens — and research shows many folks want recipes for North Carolina seafood.

In response to a recent survey conducted by North Carolina Sea Grant, 1,500 participants from across North Carolina shared their thoughts about buying prepared seafood meals to eat at home, and about aids to help them prepare seafood. Preliminary results show that individuals ranked recipes as the most important among six options to improve their seafood cooking experience.

The full survey results are expected next year as part of a larger study of the economic impact of N.C. seafood, from harvest boats to processors, markets and consumers.

In the meantime, the finding about recipes mirrors results of previous consumer research. In 2017, North Carolina Sea Grant began interviewing and conducting online surveys with seafood consumers in Carteret, Hyde and Wake counties to learn the kinds of prepared seafood meals they would purchase.

“Earlier research had identified time crunches as key hindrances to home-cooked meals, according to market analysts studying food trends across the United States,” says Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant’s seafood marketing specialist. “Consumers said they would seek out prepared food options that are convenient and have novel flavors and textures.”

In recent years, the most successful new products — in seafood and in other categories — have been transportable, while also boasting minimally processed ingredients, a handcrafted quality and bold flavors.

“Among those who prioritize buying local seafood, however, we discovered a fairly large segment of consumers who like cooking seafood meals at home,” Nash explains. “Specifically, people said they would buy local seafood to prepare home meals if they had access to guidance that would show them how to competently cook it.”

Mariner's Menu book cover
Order a copy of Mariner’s Menu from UNC Press.

Consumers have many seafood recipe sources to choose from, including cookbooks from famed chefs, church groups, and more. For its part, North Carolina Sea Grant offers more than 200 kitchen-tested recipes — using N.C. commercial fisheries species — through the resource book Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas, distributed by University of North Carolina Press, as well as online at, which caters to seafood retailers, their customers and all home cooks.

The recipes were developed by former Sea Grant consumer specialist Joyce Taylor and her Carteret County volunteers, the Nutrition Leaders, using seafood harvested by North Carolina fishermen. After retiring from Sea Grant, Taylor continued creating recipes for another 10 years.

Recently, more Mariner’s Menu recipes have become available online. “Many of these include new flavors that go beyond the classic cooking styles on the N.C. coast,” says Sea Grant’s Vanda Lewis.

Lewis has done additional testing of many of Taylor’s recipes and also has included vivid photography to enhance

“Through the Mariner’s Menu book and website, people can learn how to discern seafood quality at the retail counter; to safely handle and freeze raw seafood; and to prepare flavorful, nutritious meals at home using trustworthy recipes developed by people who grew up along the coast eating fresh, local seafood,” Nash explains.

“These are truly comprehensive resources to help people select, store and cook North Carolina seafood.”


North Carolina Sea Grant: Your link to research and resources for a healthier coast