Yes, You Can Make Fish a Family-Friendly Food
Do you only associate fish with frying, breading and tartar sauce? Or maybe forego it altogether?
Packed with protein and dripping with healthy fats, fresh seafood can be a staple go-to with a little learning and a tiny bit of effort.
Start with where your fish comes from, advises Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center Director of Food Service Amanda Viau.
“Seafood and fish that is brought to your retailer through a process of sustainable practices is much better for you, and it’s not just a ‘feel-good’ idea behind seeking these products,” she said. “Over-fished species or those raised on sub-standard fish farms will be more susceptible to stress and toxin exposure.”
Research Your Species
Online resources can help you decide on best choices. Whether you’re looking to add more heart-healthy fish to your diet or just hoping to have more choices for meals, especially with Lent nearing, another good place to start is with flavors.
“There are a number of no-brainer choices like salmon, especially fresh-caught, as well as shrimp, scallops, catfish and bass,” she said. “But trying new species and approaches to cooking can help broaden your thinking.”
If you’re in the mood for mild, start with rockfish, perch, bass or tilapia. Viau said that while tilapia had a bad reputation for a while, most of this species now is farmed with quality or live-caught. Arctic char is a lesser-known mild fish. Opah, or moonfish, is another species that’s less common, has a unique flavor and can locally be found.
While fresh are best, frozen products can be good, economical choices.
“The freezing process is hard on that delicate meat, but there’s nothing wrong with frozen fillets,” she said. “I’d encourage you to look at the labels though and only buy seafood and fish products, like shrimp, that say the contents are 100 percent.”
But What About The Smell?
Viau said fishy scents are all in the cooking, and that all cooks can use the number 145 as their “magic number.”
“Do not overcook fish or any seafood – that temperature of 145 degrees F is the gold standard,” she said. “Most issues with unpleasant or strong smells come from over-doing it. A simple method is to sear the fish in a hot pan, and then finish it in an oven until it hits the magic number.”
Thinly prepared fillets of delicate fish can be arranged on a baking sheet with parchment paper and baked to the magic number as well.
Chef Amanda shared these other insights on fish choices and prep – happy seafood cooking!
How to pick ‘em: Look for bright eyes and gills when buying a full fish, and avoid anything that has dullness or a slimy look. “Ask to look more closely and have the employee press the flesh,” Viau said. “It should resist the pressing, and if it doesn’t spring back, don’t buy it.”
Many uses for fish: You can repurpose leftover fish like other proteins. Try fish tacos and spreads made with fish or seafood. They make yummy snacks.
Great on the grill: Poaching some fish like salmon makes for a tasty dinner, but the grill is where many species really shine. “Make a packet of foil and you’ll be eating in no time,” she said.
Fear not the fish: Mercury content in fish meat is a consideration, especially with species such as ahi, orange roughy and swordfish. Pregnant women should avoid these types, but most healthy people would need to consume great quantities daily to face issues with this contaminant.
Origins matter: Look for wild-caught, use resources and ask questions when you’re shopping for your next delicious seafood feast.
Honey Glazed Salmon
• 4 tablespoons raw honey
• 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or for a Gluten Free option use tamari)
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (or use another vinegar except balsamic)
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• ½ teaspoon shallot, minced
• 2 salmon, skinless (6 ounces each)
• Avocado oil
• Dill and pepper
• Pinch sesame seeds
• Finely sliced chives
1. Remove salmon from refrigeration 20 minutes before cooking and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pat salmon skin dry with a paper towel; sprinkle with dill and pepper.
3. Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Drizzle oil in a nonstick sauté pan with oven-safe handle(s) and heat over medium high heat.
5. Place salmon in the pan, and cook the non-skin side for 2 minutes until golden brown. Turn salmon over to skin side, and then place the pan in the oven.
6. After 7 minutes, pour the sauce over salmon and cook for two minutes more or until it starts to thicken slightly. Check the temperature of the salmon with a thermometer, remove the salmon when it reaches and internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
7. If sauce thickens too much before your salmon is finished, add water one tablespoon at a time to keep the fish’s glaze.
8. Remove and rest in pan for one minute; place onto serving plates.
9. Serve salmon drizzled with sauce, sprinkled with optional garnishes if desired.
- ½ cup rice flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs (For a gluten-free option, use crushed puffed-rice breakfast cereal)
- ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound fresh perch fillets
- Pan spray
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare three shallow dishes and place rice flour in one and the butter in another.
- In the third shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
- Dip fillets in rice flour, then butter and then coat with crumb mixture.
- Place fish in a 15- by 10-inch baking pan with a light coating of pan spray.
- Bake uncovered for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
- Note: it will be difficult to temp flat fish so a flake method is a nice way to test doneness. If you want to use a thermometer remember to temp your item up to the dimple on the stem of the thermometer for an accurate read.