Fish! Glorious fish!
Fish is a great health food, low in calories and high in protein. It contains many vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish oil, all of which are essential for a healthy body and mind! Omega-3 are fatty acids that the body cannot make itself and can only be obtained from the diet. A healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout and fresh tuna which has the richest source of omega-3. Fish can help combat heart disease, obesity, memory loss, osteoporosis, increased blood pressure and skin problems. It can also slow down the aging process!
So, with all these health benefits, why is it then that we don’t eat enough of it?
It can be a bit scary knowing what to do with fish. The look, the smell! Actually, fish should have a fresh smell of the sea, if the smell is too ‘fishy’ then the chances are it’s not at it’s best! http://www.jamieshomecookingskills.com is a good website for showing you, in detail, what to look for when buying fresh fish. Ideally fish is at its’ best the fresher it is. These days supermarkets are great, not only for their fishmongers who will happily fillet and advise about all the fish on offer, but also, the freezer section now stock bags of various frozen fish portions including salmon, cod and pollock, which are very easy to handle and cook with, most straight from the freezer. But be aware, certain fish stocks are low and strict management measures have been implemented to rebuild the population. To ensure sustainability, do buy fish from reputable sustainable sources, look out for the blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) tick mark.
Cod is a white, flaky fish with a lovely delicate flavour. It is a good source of protein, phosphorus, niacin and Vitamins B-6 and B-12, with low carbohydrates and fat, it offers a stack of nutrients that are essential for good health. It is also a rich source of potassium, which is necessary for regulating blood pressure, helping your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood. Eating lean protein rich foods like cod means your total calorie intake is lower, great when watching calories.
Other fish alternatives similar to cod include haddock, pollock, bream, basa and coley.
Cod is also so easy to cook. It’s delicious whether grilled, poached, baked or fried. For a very simple recipe, pan fry the cod on a high heat for about 4 mins each side in a little olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with boiled new potatoes and vegetables of your choice. Couldn’t be simpler!
Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) but it is the content of omega-3 fatty acids that makes it particularly healthy.
The most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. They can contribute to healthy brain function, heart and joints. In addition, studies now show that eating fish may lower the risk of many cancers as well as many chronic diseases including Alzheimer's, asthma, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Salmon is typically pink in colour but can range from red to orange. Fresh salmon should have smooth, moist skin. Rely on your sense of smell to tell you if the fish is fresh! If you cannot eat the fresh salmon within a couple of days, it's best to freeze it. Once frozen and thawed, it should not be refrozen.
Fresh salmon is great whether baked, grilled or poached. You can also buy it tinned, smoked or pickled (gravadlax), but be aware the salt content. Make sure the cod is cooked thoroughly by measuring it at its thickest point and cook for 10 minutes per inch. Properly cooked salmon will have firm but moist flesh that will flake apart.
Some varieties of salmon stocks are depleted so do check for that MSC blue tick.
Tuna is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, low in saturated fat and is an excellent source of protein. The B vitamins in tuna help to build and maintain red blood cells and increase energy. These vitamins increase the rate of metabolism, strengthen the immune system and help keep the skin healthy. Tuna is a good source of selenium, an antioxidant that also helps improve the body's immune system. The immune system is a vital part of the body for fighting off sickness, diseases and infections.
When choosing fresh tuna, choose a piece that smells ocean-fresh and looks glossy, without a rainbow sheen. It's best to cook and eat tuna on the day you buy it. Sear the tuna quickly over high heat, preferably on a grill, until the flesh changes colour and is no longer translucent.
Tinned tuna is its’ most common form which, as with other tinned fish, is a perfect store cupboard staple for quick week-night meals. They can be added to pasta dishes, breaded and grilled or added to a salad. They are also great as easy sandwich fillers or with a jacket potato.