Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fish Goes Hand in Hand with Lent.

One presentation of our Mahi Mahi at Villa del Arco in Cabo.
Since I'm talking fish this week, thought i should start with a photo of one of the presentations that Executive Chef, Saul Garcia Ramos, and his staff prepared of the Mahi Mahi fish we had caught in Cabo in January.  It is being served here as Ceviche (raw marinaded fish) on the left side of plate and as Sushi (Japanese dish) on the right end.  It was delicious.

So now on to cooking and eating fish.  As the title of the blog today states, fish and Lent go hand in hand. For many Christians in years past one did not eat meat of any kind of Fridays.  Now that tradition is followed just during this Lenten period.  It also includes Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of these 40 days of Lent.  But there is more to eating fish today.

Today dietitians and health experts say everyone should eat fish and/or seafood twice a week.  They recommend two 3 1/2 ounce portions each week.  One of the reasons behind this is to help get more Omega-3 fatty acids in our system.  These are very good for us.  But remember that not all fish are equal in the Omega-3.  Those of you that think just taking Fish Oil pills will cover you, think again.  Fish is good for you for many other reasons too.

I know there are people who say they don't like fish.  I know, I was one of them most of my life.  Today I do like fish, but not every kind.  I am not a fan of Salmon.  I'm sure it goes back to my childhood days and eating canned salmon with bones in it.  Today I have a few favorite fish to eat.  I love Walleye for a fresh water fish.  For salt-water fish, I like cod, haddock, red snapper and fresh tuna.  I'll eat others but the ones mentioned I'll pick first if offered.  You need to find a type of fish or two that you might like.

How the fish is prepared does make a difference for many people.  Deep fried is probably the least healthy pick for preparation but if it gets you to eat fish, then do it. There are many other ways to fix a piece of fish. You might want to try pan-searing, poaching or roasting (baking) your fish.  Each of these techniques are easy to do. Just make sure that you cook your fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees or until it easily separates or flakes.  I'm not going to go into each of these techniques today.  If you do want to know more about them, let me know and I will follow up at a later date.

One of the reasons I hear from those that say they do not like fish, is that they smell and/or taste fishy.  Well they are fish and should taste like fish but not fishy as people refer.  Part of this has to do with the fish you are buying and how you handle them.

If you are buying fresh fish, there are things to look for to insure freshness.  The eyes of the fish should be clear and fresh looking.  There should be no fishy smell and the gills should be bright in color.  That's fine for whole fish but many fish counters offer fillets or steak cuts of fish.  Here you need to get to know the people you are dealing with when purchasing fish.  They can and are very willing to help you.

Frozen fish is another matter.  Today most fishing ships process and freeze product right on-board the ship. The fish are as fresh as possible for you.  But how do you need to handle the frozen fish?  This goes for fresh fish as well as frozen.  Thaw or hold fish in the refrigerator by placing them in a rimmed pan with a rack.  The rack keeps them out of most liquid that drains.  You want to keep the fish covered with ice until you are ready to use them.  This may mean that you have to drain the pan from time to time and add more ice.

Another way to thaw frozen fish and help keep that fishy smell or taste away, is to thaw it in buttermilk.  The buttermilk draws out that problem.  Before processing to cook in whatever recipe you have chosen, rinse the fish off and pat dry.

If you are using whole fish (either filleting or cooking whole), don't waste the scraps.  You can make a good fish stock for future needs.  Just put the pieces left (skin included) into a pot.  Cover with cold water and add some vegetables and/or herbs and heat to about 180-185 degrees for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain through a fine colander or cheesecloth.  Then seal in a container, make it with date and what it is and freeze it until needed.

This week's recipes are for "Roasted Cod with Orange & Fennel Marinade" and "Sauteed Halibut with Lemon-Parsley Sauce."  Enjoy trying them and eat more fish.  Until next week "Happy Cooking."

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