All about fish!
White fish live near or on the seabed. Flat fish such as plaice or sole live on the seabed while round fish such as cod live close to it.
Oily fish such as sardines and herrings swim near to the surface, often in shoals.
You can choose fresh, frozen or canned fish but remember that canned tuna cannot be counted as an oily fish. Canned fish can also be high in salt so choose varieties that are canned in spring water or olive oil.
Fresh whole fish should have a slippery, shiny skin, bright, clear eyes that aren’t sunken and bright red gills. The flesh should be firm and they should have a sea-fresh smell. For ready prepared fish, the fillets should be a translucent white colour and have no discolouration.
When choosing frozen fish check there is no freezer burn and that the fish is frozen hard with no thawing edges. If you are planning to freeze fish always check that your fish has not been previously frozen.
Sustainable fish sources
Fish stocks are in serious decline so do make sure that you look out for the ‘blue tick’ logo from the Marine Stewardship Council on any fish you buy. This certifies that the fish has come from a sustainable and well-managed fishery and secures fish stocks for the future.
Fresh unpackaged fish should be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. Keep it covered loosely to avoid it drying out. For pre-packaged fish, refrigerate in the packaging and eat before the use by date.
How to cook fish
Steaming: This is a healthy way of cooking fillets and thin cuts of fish. It retains the nutrients and the delicate flavour of the fish. Place the fish on a greased heatproof plate over a pan of simmering water and cover with foil. The fish is cooked when the flesh flakes easily.
Poaching: Place the fish in a shallow pan and add a little water, stock, milk or wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until cooked. For larger whole fish such as salmon you can use a fish kettle.
Baking: This method is best suited to steaks, cutlets, fillets and whole fish. Place the fish in a greased ovenproof dish, cover and bake in a moderate oven. Or you can bake the fish in an aluminium foil parcel. The baking time depends on the fish but it will cook quite quickly so check it regularly.
Grilling: Brush cutlets, steaks, fillets or small whole fish with a little olive oil and cook under a medium heat, carefully turning halfway through cooking. This is a quick method of cooking fish and is ideal for crisping the skin.
Frying: Use a little olive oil in a shallow frying pan and fry over a medium heat. Fish will cook very quickly with this method so be sure not to overcook.
Microwave: This is a good method for retaining moisture and flavour and is quick but it can leave a rather smelly microwave. Follow the microwave manufacturers cooking guidelines and check the fish is cooked through and hot before serving.
Fish provides a great low saturated fat, high protein meal along with plenty of essential minerals and vitamins. It is rich in calcium and phosphorous and a great source of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iodine. Fish is filled with important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B2 (Riboflavin). These are nutrients we are often deficient in and they are particularly high in oily fish (see my facts on fats). It is no wonder fish is often referred to as ‘brain food’, it’s all those super nutrients they contain.