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Different Ways of Cooking Fish
Fish can be delicious!
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What’s for dinner? Fish? Probably not…..Americans eat only 15 pounds of fish per person each year, way behind Asia which accounts for two-thirds of the world’s fish consumption. Why is that? Granted that fish can be “fishy” (for lack of a better word) and that maybe the reason why most people bypass the fish aisle and head for the meat section, still, there are compelling reasons to make fish part of the healthy diet. According to the Washington State Department, where fish is an important cultural icon, fish is a natural and excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, sardines and sea brass. Fish is also high in protein, low in fat and a good source of riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and potassium. It is so healthy that the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Did those health facts bait you?
If they did and you are looking for ways to include fish in your diet or looking for ways to make fish more delicious (and therefore easier on your palette), this is the hub for you. There are many different ways to prepare fish, and even more varieties of fish on the market, there is no room for boredom here. But before we discuss the different ways of cooking fish, let’s look at some fish basics.
Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.
You can say that fish is the original fast food. The average cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes and here’s why. Fish has very little connective tissue and fat and tends to cook faster than beef or chicken. The proteins found in fish will coagulate under heat and cause the fish to turn opaque, the tell-tale sign that the fish is cooked. If you’re unsure, use a fork or knife and insert it into the thickest part of the fish, it should flake easily. If you rather go with a guide, here are the typical cooking times:
- 10 minutes for every inch of fish
- 5 minutes for every inch of fish cooked in sauce
- 20 minutes per inch if the fish is frozen
Health Benefits of Fish
Numerous studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids:
· decrease heart disease
· reduce blood pressure
· help prevent arthritis
· help prevent abnormal heart rhythms
. promote healthy brain function
Marinating fish can impart a richer flavor and helps to keep the fish moist. However, over-marinating it, especially with acidic seasonings can cause it to become mushy when cooked. As a general rule, if you use acidic ingredients, marinate for no more than 30 minutes. Richer flesh of fish such as salmon and tuna can be marinated for about an hour.
Just what do you use to marinade fish? Salt, pepper and oil are basic. You can also use fresh herbs, dried seasonings, fish rub, lemon juice, vinegar, wine or chopped tomatoes and chilies. Or you can get as creative as your fancy takes you.
Now, that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the different ways of cooking fish
Baking refers to the use of dry heat. It is perhaps the easiest and simplest way to ensure a healthy meal without fuss and hassle. All you need is an oven set to required temperature, anywhere from 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degree Fahrenheit, depending on recipes.
Basic rules to remember:
- Grease baking pan or cook wear
- Place fish in greased pan and brush with melted butter or oil.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Add other seasoning ingredients if desired: fresh herbs, dried seasonings, lemon juice or white wine.
- If you’re stuffing fish, make sure it is only two-thirds full.
- Bake for required time and serve hot with or without sauce.
Baked Tilapia with scallion and tofu
Nothing beats the flavor of grilled fish. Just fire up the grill and make sure it is very hot. The high heat will help to seal the juice. However, not all fish lend themselves to grilling. Thick steaks of tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi and salmon will not slide through the grate and will grill well. Just pat fish with oil and add desired seasoning and placed on grill. Watch video for more detailed instruction.
Whole fish works well too. But that’s not to say that you can’t grill the daintier fillets such as sole, catfish, flounder and tilapia. You can choose to wrap them in foil or use a wire fish basket.
Using foil packets to grill fragile fillets have its advantages. You can add vegetables and potatoes to fish and make it a complete meal in itself. Another bonus—your grill will be clean and clean-up will therefore be a breeze. Alternatively, you can cook tender fillets on wood planks. Lay fish on pre-soaked plank, cover and grill. There are a variety of wood planks available: Alder wood, cedar, hickory, maple wood, mesquite or oak. The distinctive flavors of these hard woods will give the fish a distinctive smoky flavor.
How to Grill Fish
Poach generally goes with egg by association but you can also poach fish as well. The art of poaching fish is relatively simple and since poaching requires little or no oil, the health barometer goes up.
Poaching works on the principle of simmering food in relatively low temperature, anywhere between 160 to 185 degree Fahrenheit. What you add to the liquid will give the fish a distinctive flavor.
- Bring water or broth to a boil and then lower heat, so it simmers.
- Flavor liquid with wine, vinegar, cider, milk, court bouillon.
- Add seasonings, herbs, or vegetables.
- Add fish and cook until opaque.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Art of Poachng Fish
Steaming whole fish.
Steaming Fish from Chinese Cook Expert
In Asia, steaming whole fish is very popular. The whole fish is cleaned and lightly salted. It is often top with ginger, scallion and sometimes tofu or tomatoes. Of course, you can get fancy and use whatever you desire: shitake mushroom, preserved plums, nappa cabbage. Often a basic seasoning of soya sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, Hsaosing wine and sugar (optional) is mixed and then drizzle over the fish.
A bamboo steamer is often used, though you can also put a steaming rack on the wok and convert it into a steamer. Make sure the water is bubbling hard before you place your dish of fish inside. The process is fast and the fish is done in 15 to 20 minutes.
My mother likes to steam smaller fish in the rice cooker. She would place the plate of fish into the rice cooker when the rice is about 8 minutes from being done. Once the rice is done, she allows the fish to sit inside for another 5 minutes. Imagine—you can have your rice and fish at the same time and it takes no more than 20 minutes total.
There are so many ways to prepare fish that it is not possible for cover them all in this hub, for fear that some of you may fall asleep. So, for those of you who are still awake and wanting more, here are even more ways:
- Stir-fry (usually fish is sliced or cut into chunks)
- En Papillote (encased in parchment paper or foil)
Interesting Ways of Eating Fish
In cultures where fish features prominently in the diet, fish has been used in many creative ways. The Japanese developed a whole cuisine around raw fish and gave sushi to the world. The Jewish people have a close affinity with Gelfite fish. In Southeast Asia, anchovies are deep fried, seasoned with exotic spices and eaten as a snack. In Singapore, this same light snack is also commonly served as a light appetizer in restaurant before the food proper comes. Then there is fish paste (fish blended with an assortment of seasonings, herbs and some flour) and then shaped into balls (fish balls), patties (fish cakes) or it is cleverly used to stuff vegetables such as fresh chilies, eggplants, okra, hard tofu, soya bean skins or bell peppers. Totally ingenious and delicious.
So, it is befitting that I end this hub with a fishball making video.