Fish is not just for eating on Fridays. It’s the ultimate brain food, recommended by nutritionists as part of a balanced diet, ideally eaten two to three times a week.
White fish, such as barramundi, whiting and blue eye trevally, are lean, low in fat, and full of protein. Oily fish, including tuna, trout, sardines and salmon, is packed with omega 3 fats, which are good for reducing the risk of heart disease and other illnesses.
Some people worry that fish is difficult to prepare, or become stuck when it comes to which fish to buy. An excellent tip is to seek out the fish varieties that are available locally. Buying fish from the counter in the supermarket usually works out more cost-effective than selecting pre-packaged fish. If you can buy fish at the market that is even better. A good fish supplier will tell you how the fish was caught and will be happy to scale, clean and fillet the fish for you.
Below are five easy ways to get your fill of fish. To check if fish is cooked, use a knife to cut through the thickest part; if the fish is cooked the fish meat will no longer be translucent.
Baked in a foil parcel
One of the most simple, delicious ways to cook fish is a to place a whole fish – or a deboned fish fillet – onto a large piece of aluminium foil, drizzle some oil and lemon over it and add some herbs. Then bring the foil together to form a foil parcel and place it in the oven – depending on the size of the fish – for about 18 to 20 minutes. You could also follow our recipe for Whole Roasted Trout.
You can place a fish fillet straight onto the barbecue hotplate, or use a fish basket to cook a whole fish. Simply season the fish with a little oil, salt and pepper (and other desired herbs). Basil, bay leaf, dill, fennel, lemon balm, parsley, tarragon are all perfect accompaniments.
French sauté or meunière
You can fry, or sauté, fish fillets lightly with a little oil in a pan. For meunière, first dry the fish fillets and then coat them in seasoned flour. Heat a little clarified butter or canola oil in a pan. Cook the fish fillets for a few minutes on each side until the oil starts to brown then remove them; add capers, lemon juice and parsley to the pan, cook for a few more minutes. Then serve the resulting browned butter/oil sauce with the fish.
Ceviche, or marinated in citrus juices
What could be more refreshing in summer than fish marinated in citrus juice, otherwise known as ceviche? Try to use the freshest fish possible and preferably semi-firm, white fish. Ask the fishmonger to take off the skin if you don’t want to remove this yourself. Cut fish into large, even cubes, or thin pieces, and place in a bowl. Pour lime or citrus juice (about half a cup of lime/citrus juice for each one pound of fish) over the fish pieces and marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. The fish is effectively ‘cured’ in the citrus juice so there is no need for cooking.
Steaming is probably the healthiest, and most delicate, way to prepare fish. If you have a steamer, place the fish inside, cover it and put over a pan of boiling water. An inch-thick fillet will take around 10 minutes to cook on simmer. If you don’t have a steamer, put about half an inch of water in a large skillet or heavy pan. Then place the fish fillet on an over-proof plate over the water in the pan; cover and steam for 10 minutes. To give it more flavour, splash over a little sesame oil or soy sauce or add garlic, ginger and chopped shallots.
An easy way to get more fish into your diet is to add canned tuna to a salad for a healthy lunch, or make Salmon Burgers for supper. You could also try mashing sardines together with some potato and herbs.
Of course, you and I know that one of the most enjoyable ways to eat fish is with chips, with plenty of vinegar and a little salt, preferably while looking at the sea. And that’s still sort of a health food… the fish part at least!