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Fish is a high-value protein that makes a great dinner choice. Some fish choices, like fatty-fish varieties such as salmon and herring, contain a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart. A serving of cooked fish is a 3 1/2 oz. sized portion, which is also about a 3/4 cup of flaked cooked fish fillet or steaks that can be used in salads, casseroles and one-dish meals.
Certain fish varieties are known to contain mercury or other contaminants and should be avoided by pregnant women, women who are nursing, and small children. If fish is caught fresh, check with local agencies or the EPA Fish Advisory regarding which fish to release and which fish is acceptable to keep for eating. Fish that are known to contain high levels of mercury due to their diet or the environment they live in are tilefish, shark and swordfish, among others. Fish choices that are low in mercury and contain Omega-3 fatty acids are canned light tuna (not solid albacore variety), salmon and catfish.
Healthy cooking methods for fish include those that avoid lots of oil and butter and a fatty breading or coating, such as deep frying and pan frying. Better choices are poaching, baking and broiling.
Poaching Basics for Fish
Poaching is a moist cooking method preferred for large fillets, thicker steaks and whole fish. Note: Make sure to use the best boning and fillet knife when cutting.. Fish that is poached can be easily flaked for recipes. Poaching fish is not the same as boiling it as the fish is cooked in a liquid at a simmering temperature, not a full rolling boil. Fish poacher pans make the task of removing the cooked fish easy as most contain a removable rack that when lifted removes the fish easily from the poaching liquid without breaking up large pieces. The basic method for poaching fish includes bringing a court-bouillon or a flavored liquid (such as water, lemon juice, onion (Here are some great onion choppers for you!), celery tops, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and salt or pepper to taste) to a boil, adding in the fish and reducing the heat once the liquid begins bubbling. Continue cooking until the fish flakes easily and is no longer translucent.
Baking Basics for Fish
Baking is a dry cooking method which can be used for both smaller cuts and whole fillets of fish. The oven temperatures can be varied depending on the size of the fish portions being cooked. Smaller portions can withstand higher temperatures and large portions should be cooked at a more moderate temperature since it will need to be cooked longer. Leaner fish, such as cod, barramundi and sole should be baked in a liquid or braised to keep it moist and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and catfish can be baked alone.
Broiling Basics for Fish
Broiling is another healthy method of cooking in the oven which involves the heating element above the fish rather than below. Smaller fillets are excellent choices for broiling as the thicker portions may dry out on the surface before the center is cooked all the way through. Basting the fish or applying a light drizzle of a flavored oil or sauce during cooking will help ensure a moist fish.
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