With the Nine Days coming, when we refrain from eating meat as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the carnivores among us may be hard pressed to find a week of meatless dinners to prepare. Don’t forget to include fish when planning your supper menus! Fish is an excellent choice for several reasons:
1) Convenience: Fish is one of the fastest dishes imaginable – a fish fillet bakes in the same amount of time as it takes to cook a pot of macaroni and cheese. A good piece of salmon doesn’t really need anything more than a dash of lemon juice, salt, and pepper to be oven-ready. Alternatively, this fish “dressing” is quick and easy to prepare.
Baked Salmon with Mustard and Dill
(compliments of Shindler’s Fish, Baltimore, Maryland)
- Salmon fillets
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 6 Tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
- Garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Mix mustard and mayonnaise until well blended. Place fillets in baking dish and coat with mixture. Sprinkle spices to taste. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until fish turns light pink and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from oven immediately – do not overbake.
2) Lean protein: Fish is naturally low in fat. Many fish, such as cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, trout, and tuna canned in water are considered very lean sources of protein, similar to egg whites, fat-free cottage cheese, and white meat poultry. Even the so-called “fatty fish,” like herring, salmon, sardines, and tuna canned in oil (drained) are actually lean sources of protein, on the order of dark meat poultry and lean beef trimmed of fat. Each ounce of fish contains seven grams of protein. Three ounces of fish, or about the volume of a deck of cards, is considered one serving.
Flounder with Vegetables
- Flounder fillets
- 1 c diced onion
- 3 c chunked zucchini
- 3 c diced green pepper
- 2 c diced tomatoes
- 1 T lemon juice
- ½ tsp basil
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 dash hot pepper or taco sauce (be careful!)
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Place flounder fillets in 9 inch (23 cm) pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sautee onion, zucchini, and peppers and add to the pan. Top with diced tomatoes. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over the fish and vegetables. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
3) Of course, if you fry fish or choose to eat your fish as fish sticks, you’ve lost this natural benefit. But I’ve just found a great alternative – what looks like the most fantastic homemade fish stick recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy 2010. Though I haven’t yet tried it out, I can’t resist sharing it with you in time for the Nine Days. Let me know how it goes!
Healthy Fish Sticks
- 1/5 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup flour + 5 Tbsp of flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt + 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper +1/4 tsp pepper +1/8 tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 24 oz cod, skinless, 1 to 1/2 inches thick (any lean fish will probably do as well)
Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C). Mix breadcrumbs, ¼ tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and parsley in one dish. Whisk eggs, mayo, paprika, cayenne, and 1/8 tsp pepper together in a second dish, then whisk in five tablespoons of flour until the mixture is smooth. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Use the ¼ cup of flour to dredge the fillets in flour. Shake off the excess flour, coat the fillets with the egg mixture and allow the excess to drip off. Coat the fillets with the breadcrumb mixture. Press the crumb mixture into the fillet to prevent the mixture from falling off. Lay fillets on baking sheet lined with baking paper. Use a thermometer to check if the fillet is ready; the fish needs to reach 140 F (60 C). This should take 18-25 minutes.
4) Omega 3: Fatty fish contain omega 3 fatty acids, which bring special benefits to the table. The most conclusive evidence of omega-3’s healthfulness is in the area of heart health. While most fats raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, eating fats that provide omega-3 fatty acids actually reduces the risk of heart disease. Studies show that eating two servings of these fish each week reduces triglycerides and lowers the risk of death from cardiac events by one third. So here’s another fatty fish recipe!
Salmon with Dill
- Salmon fillets
- 2 tsp dill
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Squeeze lemons over fillets and add spices. Let stand 15 minutes. Coat with mayo and bake about 12 minutes for each inch of thickness. Then turn the oven to broil until the mayonnaise browns.
5) If fresh or frozen fish is beyond your budget, canned fish is a cheaper option. None of the health benefits is lost when fish is canned in water, though when canned in oil, some of the omega-3s are absorbed by the oil and then drained away. A drawback of canned fish may be high levels of sodium. Try to find a brand without added salt. But, unless you are struggling with high blood pressure or another salt-sensitive condition, canned fish is worthwhile despite the sodium.
- 2 cans chunk light tuna
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 2 Tbsp chopped onion
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise or 3 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 1/3 cups bread crumbs (whole wheat is fine) or oats
- 1-2 Tbsp additional oil for frying
Drain one of the cans of tuna. Mash both very well. Mix the rest of the ingredients into the tuna. Form into patties and fry lightly on both sides in a Teflon frying pan. Makes about 12 palm-size patties.
Cautionary words: Due to ever-increasing pollution, the oceans have unfortunately become repositories for heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides. Though these metals and chemicals are not healthful for anyone, they are a serious concern for pregnant women or little children, as they can cause birth defects and cancer in the fetus and brain damage in the still-developing brain. So eat your fish, but get guidance from a professional about which types and how much!
Pickled Sweet’n’Sour Anyfish
You really can use any fish for this recipe. I’ve prepared fish as different as salmon fillets and whole hake and the results were equally delicious.
- 1 onion, sliced
- ¼ c sugar
- 1 c water
- 1/3 c vinegar
- 2 cloves (optional)
- 3 bay leaves
- Pinch pickling spice (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
Boil ingredients together in a pot until the mixture bubbles. Add raw fish to the pot in a single layer. Cook for one hour on low flame.