Giving Fish a Try
We dietitians can get pretty enthusiastic about healthy foods, and one that we'd like to see people eating more often is fish. But I often hear people say that they don't like the taste of fish or that they don't know how to cook it. For many, tuna salad and fish sticks are about as far as they've ventured. If that sounds like you, it could be that you haven't eaten really fresh fish, or fish that was properly prepared. It's worth giving a try, though- not only because it's so healthy, but because fish is so quick and easy to prepare.
When it comes to flavor, some varieties are a little fishier than others, but there are plenty of mild fish out there worth trying. Halibut, cod, tilapia and orange roughy, for example, are some of the mildest tasting fish. Texture matters too. Some people object more to the texture of fish than the taste. Some don't like softer fish, like sole, even though its taste is very mild. So for them, a firmer, drier fish like mahi-mahi might work better.
If fish is truly fresh, it's surprisingly un-fishy. When you're shopping for fresh fish, the flesh should look firm and shiny. And the fish - as well as the fish market should smell a little briny, like the ocean, not strongly fishy. Ask the seller which fish is freshest, and let them know what you're looking for. They can guide you to the best varieties, and can usually offer up some cooking suggestions, too. Fresh fish should be cooked within 24 hours, so buy it the same day you plan to prepare it.
Don't overlook the freezer case. Fish is flash frozen right after it's caught, so it retains its flavor and nutrition, and the texture usually doesn't suffer much. And, you may be surprised to know that you don't need to thaw the fish before you cook it. Frozen fish filets can be baked, grilled or sautéed - nothing could be easier. Remove the fish from the package, rinse it quickly under cold water to remove any ice crystals, then pat dry and it's ready to use.
Pan-searing is one of the simplest methods to prepare fish. Spray a pan with pan spray, and heat it over medium-high heat. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper on your fish, then sear it in the hot pan until it's browned on one side. Then flip it over, cover the pan, and continue cooking until it's done - which usually only takes about 10 minutes. You don't even need to add liquids before you cover, but you can. A little lemon juice or white wine does wonders. Add a little salsa and you'll have a great filling for fish tacos. You can also bake fish filets, or grill them on the barbecue. But no matter how you cook it, test to see if the fish is done by poking with a fork at its thickest point and take a peek. It should look opaque and firm, and it should flake easily.
Don't overlook the canned aisle, either. You might want to give salmon patties a try. Mix the flaked fish with some dry bread crumbs, a beaten egg and some diced onion, then form into patties. Once they're grilled and tucked into a bun with some lettuce and tomato, these delicious burgers might turn you into a fish lover, too.
Susan Bowerman is a paid consultant to Herbalife.