Whether it’s a scrumptious salmon dish or a crowd-pleasing clam chowder, most of us love seafood. We love it so much, we dedicated a month to it. That’s right: October is National Seafood Month, and there’s still time to partake.
Despite the incredible variety and long list of health accolades, you may be surprised that only 1 in 10 of us meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and heart healthy expert recommendations to eat seafood at least twice a week. Eating fish once or twice a week has been associated with a 36 percent reduction in death from heart disease and a 17 percent reduction in death from any cause.
From fresh to frozen selections, seafood plays a significant role in a healthy diet. With any fish dish, you’ll reap the benefits of eating a high quality protein, nutrient-packed, omega-3 fatty acids-rich meal. Along with a remarkable nutritional profile, seafood has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, improvements in brain function and healthy fetal development. Widely available and budget-friendly, seafood is simple to prepare, and can take only minutes from pan to plate. Follow this guide to easily add seafood to your dinner menu:
— Budget-happy. You’ll find more deals with fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced fish and shellfish. Frozen and canned varieties offer an affordable alternative in any town, year-round.
— Picking fresh. Fresh fish should be firm and almost elastic to touch, with a mild, sweet or sea-like smell. Look for whole fish with bright, clear eyes and reddish-pink gills. You can buy whole fish, steaks (a cross-section) or filets (cut length-wise), and you can purchase fish with or without skin and bones.
— Opting for frozen. Frozen fish is best when it is tightly packaged. Avoid options with discoloration. Once thawed, it should have a pleasant odor similar to the fresh varieties.
Storing and Prepping Fish
— While fresh fish can stay fresh in your fridge for a couple of days — one or two days is ideal — frozen fish will last for a couple of months. Check the expiration dates on canned products to ensure freshness.
— The best way to defrost frozen fish is to put it into the fridge overnight. When you are in a pinch, you can submerge frozen fish in cold, running tap water. Make sure it is sealed in a bag so the water doesn’t touch the fish. It should defrost in 5 to 10 minutes.
— Seafood can be easily steamed, poached, grilled, baked and broiled without adding extra calories or sodium from condiments. Delicate fish, such as cod and flounder, as well as shellfish taste delicious when they are steamed, poached and baked.
— Fish is delicious with minimal seasonings, such as olive oil, lemon, salt or pepper. Feel adventurous? You can experiment with a variety of herb and spice blends as well as poaching liquids.
— Heartier fish, such as swordfish, tuna and even salmon, can withstand the heat of a grill or saute pan with little difficulty. For delicate fish, avoid overcooking on the grill or place on a stone or tinfoil for an outdoor dinner. You can tell if your fish is cooked by inserting a fork into the thickest point and twisting it gently. The “meat” should flake easily and you will notice it also loses its translucent, raw appearance.
— To keep your house scent-free, start with fresh fish and avoid overcooking it. Keep in mind that many types of fish only take around 10 minutes to cook.
Fish in 15 Minutes
— Place fresh or thawed salmon filets on a baking sheet. Combine 1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard and 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup. Use this mixture to glaze the salmon. Broil the salmon, 10 inches from the flame, for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of filet. Serve.
— Toss one pound — usually 16 to 20 — peeled and deveined shrimp with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, the juice from half of a lemon, one clove of garlic (chopped), salt, pepper and an optional pinch of red pepper flakes. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.
— Fill a sauce pot with 2 cups of vegetables stock, 1 cup of water, three garlic cloves, 1/2 cup sliced leeks — the white part only — and two sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes, and then add two 6-ounce cod filets and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook the fish for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet. Serve with leeks and a spoonful of poaching liquid, as well as a squeeze of lemon.
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