Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.
Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!
Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;
White Sea Fish
- White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
- White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
- Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
- The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
- With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
- Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.
Oil Rich Fish
Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.
Fresh Water Fish
Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char
Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)
Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish
You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.
Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.
We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.
However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.
Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of our Catch of the Day
Its meaty texture, rich colour, and flavour make it an appealing idea for a main course substitute for the old standbys.
For many people it can be a bit off-putting when trying to decide what fish it is you would like or need, as well as how your selection will decide how you are going to cook it, or even how it will taste.
Hopefully this little essay will help clear up some of the mystification and assist you to make a better, more well-informed choice when buying your next salmon.
Oily fish, especially Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fats, protein, and vitamin D.
The omega fats help blood circulation and reduce blood pressure, which in turn help lessen the risk of a heart attack. They have also been known to help with depression and anxiety concerns.
Wild salmon just like its cousin the sea-trout have unique, pure flavours that are superb and they are not like the low-cost and nondescript-farmed salmon and trout, which is sold in supermarkets and markets countrywide.
A wild salmon is one whose creation is natural, ensuing from spawning in a natural fish habitat from parents spawned and reared in a natural fish habitat.
Salmon are in the Salmonidae family and they mainly live along the coast of both the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
While the excellence of farmed salmon is getting better all the time it can be really oily in taste especially.
Whereas a wild salmon will have swum the Atlantic and so will have solid muscles, much less fat and a diverse natural diet.
The colour of a wild salmon is a light pink this is because a wild salmon’s diet consists mainly of shellfish and it has a much more subtle flavour.
As I wrote earlier Wild Salmon is a tremendously nutritious food it is high in protein, and the “good fats.” However did you know that a 120 gram serving of wild salmon gives you a full day’s requirement of vitamin D?
It is one of a small number of foods that can make that statement and that same piece of salmon has more than half of the daily required B12, niacin, and selenium, as well as being a first-rate source of B6 and magnesium, and tinned salmon also contains huge amounts of calcium (because of the bones of the fish).
Buying Wild Salmon
Wild Salmon is sold at some supermarkets however it is more accessible from fishmongers, (Jon our fishmonger always has it when in season), and fresh fish market stalls.
As with all fish, fresh salmon will be bright-eyed and red-gilled with a fresh sea aroma and with a bronze lustre to the skin is as a rule a good sign.
The fundamental rule when buying fresh fish is to get it as fresh as is possible, we always say it is preferable to buy fish that has been frozen and recently thawed than to buy fresh fish that has been sitting for a few days.
Buying a whole salmon and cutting it into filets or steaks involves a bit more effort, but your fishmonger should be quite happy to do this for you.
Remember that you are spending a lot of money on this fish, so before you buy it, take the time to examine it, it’s always worth while to build up a good friendship with your local fishmonger, he really wants your custom and will be very helpful.
Storing Wild Salmon
- As soon as you get home, unwrap, rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.
- Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use.
- For best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.
- If it’s necessary to freeze fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.
- It is not advisable to keep fish unfrozen for longer than a day or so, and if possible, it is best not to purchase fish until the day you plan to use it.
- If you should come across a fantastic offer on salmon, you can freeze it safely by wrapping in a combination of cling film, foil, and zip bags.
- It keeps well in the freezer for about 4 months, and keep nearly all of its texture and taste
Preparing and Cooking Wild Salmon
- Salmon is one of the easier fish to prepare and cook it is quite robust and you can use a large range of cooking styles, including; steaming, baking, poaching, pan frying, roasting, or grilling.
- When cooking salmon the key to success is to avoid overcooking, salmon and fish in general continues to cook even when removed from the heat so keep your eyes on it.
- You will know when it is done that’s when the meat flakes gently when pierced with a fork, this is about 10 minutes cooking time for each inch of thickness, on or under the grill, 5 minutes each side.
- It doesn’t have to be opaque all the way through to be cooked it will probably be dry if you wait that long.
- Salmon works well with an extensive range of flavours, while the more fragile fish become overwhelmed with strong flavours, salmon stands up to a lot of sauces and marinades.
As with all fish, salmon goes well with citrus flavours, and while dill is probably the herb most frequently linked with salmon, just about any fresh herb you can think of tastes wonderful with it.
Given that salmon fishing starts in the spring and goes throughout the summer, just think of spring vegetables such as asparagus and mushrooms to go with salmon, continuing on to more or less any grouping of summer vegetables.
Below is a rough guide to cooking times these can be use for other fish with a similar texture
- Bake, brush fish lightly with oil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes
- Poach, bring the poaching liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer add the fish, cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pan Frying, preheat the over a medium heat, add cooking oil, the cook the salmon for five to six minutes per side.
Blackened Cajun Salmon
Succulent salmon cooked the Cajun way with oodles of flavour and colour a real pleasure to serve to family and guests.
We love Cajun food and try to make it as authentic as we can, this was a dish we had at the Bayou Seafood Grille in Rancho Mirage and as I was making my notes at the table the chef came out with the recipe already written out for me, I’ve got to say that the food at the Bayou Seafood Grill is superb.
Serves / Makes: 4 servings
Prep-Time: 15 minutes
Cook-Time: 25 minutes
You Will Need
- 3 tablespoons, Cajun seasoning, see my recipe on MyDish
- 4, salmon steaks, or fillets about 180 grams each
For the Salsa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
- 1 clove, garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 x 400 gram tin, chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons, freshly chopped coriander
Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning on a plate; dip the salmon into the seasoning to coat both sides, set to one side.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and fry the onion, chilli and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened, stir in the chilli powder, tomatoes and chopped coriander, cook gently for 10 minutes or so until the salsa has thickened and reduced season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brush a griddle pan with the remaining oil, heat until smoking and cook the salmon for 3 to 4 minutes each side until golden and cooked.
Serve and Enjoy, we like it with sautéed potatoes and a mixed salad!
Most new cooks think blackened means burned blackened actually refers to the spices becoming slightly charred and giving the cut of fish this smoky and spicy flavouring If you don’t have a griddle pan use a frying pan.
Cajun Food originates from the French speaking Acadian or “Cajun” immigrants in the Acadiana region of Louisiana, USA.
It is often called a country fare and locally grown food dominates with simple preparations. An authentic Cajun food meal is usually a three-pot affair, with the first pot being the main dish, the second to steamed rice, skillet cornbread, or some other grain dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful for that years crop.
Cajun Food/Cuisine was developed out of necessity, the Acadian refugees, farmers reduced to nothing by the British expulsion, had to learn to live off the swampy land they lived in and quickly adapted to the French rustic cuisine with locally grown foods such as rice, crawfish (craw daddys), and sugar cane.
The aromatic vegetables bell pepper, onion, and celery are called by some chefs the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cuisines. Finely diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine, which blends finely diced onion, celery, and carrot. Typical seasonings include parsley, bay leaf, green onions or scallions, and dried cayenne pepper.
Baked Salmon with Spiced Herbs
A delicious salmon dish that tastes as good as it looks, this fragrant fish just melts in your mouth!
Serves / Makes: 4 servings
Prep-Time: 10 minutes
Cook-Time: 15 minutes
You Will Need
- 4 (650 grams), salmon fillets
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 red chilli, seeded and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 200 grams, tenderstem broccoli
- 200 grams, trimmed asparagus
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down, on the prepared tray. Using a sharp knife, make 3 slits on top of the salmon.
Put the lemon juice, chilli, garlic, sugar, fresh coriander, parsley, cumin and ground coriander in a small bowl and mix well. Spread the topping over the salmon and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until done to your liking.
Meanwhile, steam the tenderstem broccoli and asparagus until tender.
Serve the fish with the steamed vegetables and steamed basmati rice and Enjoy!
- Catch of the Day, Sea Trout (astrochef.wordpress.com)
- Salmon – An affordable Luxury (boldstate.com)
- Fish: Wild or Farmed? (theafterburnsg.wordpress.com)
- Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (thehealthwish.com)
- Top ten: Scottish seafood treats to tickle the taste buds (scotsman.com)