Whether wrapped in a banana leaf or smothered in pineapple salsa, these healthy fish recipes will provide you with new, quick ways to dress up fish for dinner.
It is easy to understand why more and more people today are enjoying fish. You need only visit your local fishmonger to realize that one of the reasons for the rising popularity of fish is the incredible variety available. Fish is also a delicious addition to a healthy diet.
Oily fish versus white fish
Most of the fish we consume belong to a scientific classification called Osteichthyes that includes more than 28,000 different species. When comparing the health benefits of different kinds of fish, it is helpful to divide the fish we eat into two categories: oily fish (also called fatty fish) and white fish.
Oily fish, as the name would suggest, have fats and oils concentrated throughout their bodies, which result in a more flavourful flesh that is slightly darker in colour. The oils in white fish, on the other hand, are mainly concentrated in the liver.
While many of us consciously try to limit unhealthy fats in our diet, the oils found in fish are among the richest natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat necessary for optimal health. Omega-3 fatty acids provide us with a plethora of potential benefits including the reduction of high cholesterol and an increase in heart-healthy HDL cholesterol, as well as lower blood pressure, the reduction of inflammation, and the promotion of healthy brain and eye function.
As our bodies are unable to make omega-3s, we have to ingest this essential fat from what we eat. Oily fish in particular, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are wonderful choices to take advantage of the many health benefits offered by fish.
Many types of oily fish, as well as white fish, such as halibut, sole, and cod, are excellent sources of protein and contain minerals and vitamins including selenium, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Fish is one of the most versatile and nutritionally dense ingredients you can cook, so don’t miss the boat! Take inspiration from the following recipes and fall for fish—hook, line, and sinker.
Dressed for dinner
Fish can be prepared for cooking in a number of different ways. Impress your fishmonger by asking for your fish to be prepared to suit your taste or chosen recipe.
Fish sold whole are as they appear right out of the water.
Dressed or pan dressed
Dressed fish have been gutted and scaled. Pan dressing a fish goes a few steps further by removing the tail, head, fins, and gills.
Fish steaks are inch-thick, perpendicular to the spine, cross-sectioned cuts of a dressed fish, which contain part of the spine.
The most common cut of fish, the fillet is obtained by cutting away the flesh on either side of the fish. Fillets may or may not be skinned. Before cooking you should make sure the intramuscular bones, known as pin bones, are removed.
Also called a cutlet, this cut is when the two fillets (one from each side of the fish) remain connected by a piece of uncut flesh or skin.
Fish is a perfect quick-cook protein, delicious when simply seasoned with a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. While fish lends itself to a multitude of cooking methods, including baking, broiling, grilling, steaming, poaching, and sautéing, the fragility of each fish flesh dictates its best cooking methods. Meaty fish such as salmon and halibut, for example, are better suited to grilling than more delicately fleshed fish such as sole or tilapia.
Depending on your cooking method, type of fish, and cut of fish, cooking time will vary slightly. Ensure that frozen fillets have had a chance to thaw slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Before cooking fish, rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 158 F to 165 F (70 C to 74 C). You can also test for doneness by using a fork or knife to ensure the flesh flakes apart easily and is opaque throughout.
- Watercress Soup with Tuna Confetti
- Mackerel Ceviche
- Banana Leaf BBQ Fish
- Saffron Herb Halibut
- Salmon Cakes with Pineapple Salsa
A word of caution
Many people are wary of eating fish because of reports that they contain mercury or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Like all living things, fish are a product of their environment and may absorb or ingest contaminants found in the waters where they live.
It is highly recommended to avoid eating tilefish, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel, as these big fish tend to contain more contaminants because they have longer life expectancies and are higher on the food chain. It is also recommended to limit your intake of tuna steak or albacore/white tuna to no more than 5 1/2 oz (150 g) per week. Women who are trying to get pregnant or are expecting or nursing, as well as young children should avoid these fish altogether.
Many of the fish species we eat are experiencing a rapid decline due to overfishing and habitat destruction. To ensure the continuation of this wonderful commodity, it is important to make smart decisions about which fish you buy and where you buy it. Ask questions, look at labels, and do a little research to ensure you are purchasing sustainable fish. When possible, opt for seafood stamped with an Ocean Wise or SeaChoice symbol.