The fish It is a key component of the diet, prized for its rich flavor and range of varieties available. In addition to its culinary value, it is known for its nutritional characteristics.
It has been known for some time that the fishthanks to his beneficial properties, can bring huge benefits.
Fish: nutritional characteristics
Fish is a precious source of essential nutrients that contribute to well-being. The nutritional properties vary slightly between different species, but generally, fish is rich in:
- High quality proteins: Fundamental for tissue growth and restoration.
- Omega 3: Essential fatty acids that support heart, brain and joint health.
- Mineral salts: Such as selenium, potassium and iodine, important for various bodily functions.
Fish: properties and benefits
Experts recommend regular consumption of fish because it could lead to a number of health benefits. What is fish good for??
- Heart health – Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce the risk of heart disease by cleansing the blood of triglycerides, lowering cholesterol levels and improving arterial health.
- Brain health – Nutrients such as Omega-3 are essential for proper brain development and function, improving memory and concentration.
- Joint support – Compounds with anti-inflammatory properties can relieve arthritis symptoms and improve joint health.
- Weight control – The lean proteins present in fish contribute to a feeling of satiety, helping to control body weight.
What are the most common fish?
The seas and oceans are populated by a variety of fish that offer different nutritional properties and taste experiences.
Fish can be divided into four broad categories: saltwater fish (e.g. sea bass, sea bream, sole and gurnard), freshwater fish (e.g. perch and carp), preserved fish (smoked, salted…) and finally crustaceans and molluscs. Here’s what they are most consumed varieties of fish:
- Salmon: Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, it is the fish to eat if you want a succulent flavor and a soft texture. It can be prepared grilled, baked or smoked.
- Tuna: Versatile and rich in proteins, tuna is a fish that lends itself to a variety of preparations. From sushi to canned tuna, it’s a convenient option for a healthy and tasty meal.
- Cod: With its tender meat and delicate flavor, cod is perfect for baking or grilling. It is an excellent source of lean protein and vitamins, thus answering the question what is the healthiest fish to eat.
- Trout: With a slightly sweet taste, trout is a freshwater fish which can be cooked in various ways, such as grilled or fillet baked in foil.
Fresh fish: guide to choosing the king of the table
Except for dried fish, all other types should be eaten very fresh. But how to recognize fresh fish?
The first useful indications concern the size, as it must be whole. Judging fillets and steaks is almost impossible because they are usually killed before being preserved. Smell is certainly a good way to judge the freshness of fish, but it is not the only one.
For recognize fresh fish, the first thing we must analyze are the eyes which must appear full and protruding and not sunken and dull. Subsequently we move on to the evaluation of the gills which must never be gray and dry, but red and shiny. Other indicators of freshness include the body, firm and rigid. Like the other parts of the fish, it must be very moist. Finally there is the skin. The streaks must be bright, for example, fresh trout and herring have iridescent tones, just as red mullets have bright pink shades.
Slice or fillet? The main difference between slice and fillet of fresh fish is that in the first case it is cut in front of you, for the fillets you must have a good sharp knife available to avoid damaging the meat. Some large fish such as tuna and swordfish they are sold in slices. Again, to evaluate freshness, you can rely on sight and touch, but you can also be guided by the smell. Before continuing with the next category of fish, let’s open a small parenthesis on fish fillets. After purchasing you have to scale the fish, a simple but annoying operation, then you have to cut the fins, remove the entrails and bone. Round fish are the easiest to clean and fillet, in fact they are cut on the sides starting from the head. You can also make a delicious fish broth with the backbone. Our grandmothers taught us a little trick that is especially useful for beginners. If the fresh fish is slimy and cannot be handled easily, rinse it under hot water or with a solution of water and vinegar (1 tablespoon for each liter of water), rub it well on both sides and then dab it with the absorbent paper.
There crustacean category includes lobsters, crabs and shrimp. If you buy them still alive you must check their liveliness, while if they are pre-cooked make sure that the shell and claws are compact and solid. Prawns must also have similar characteristics and be of the unmistakable pink colour. As for molluscs, we have mussels, clams, scallops, oysters and other varieties. Shells must be clean and free of slime and barnacles. The scallops are sold open and their sweet scent immediately captivates you. For oysters, however, an old legend has it that the best are those from the months with the letter “r”.*
How to cook fresh fish
After choosing the best fish fresh and having cleaned it, all we have to do is roll up our sleeves and get behind the stove. We will divide the catch into large families, the first is that of round fish which includes fish of different shapes and sizes. They all have a meaty pulp and are combined with strong and tasty ingredients. Let’s start immediately with sea bass, one of the best known, ideal for steaming or baking. Cod, on the other hand, has compact flesh that resists high temperatures and can be fried or sautéed, as can mackerel and monkfish. Salmon and trout are also part of this large family, the undisputed protagonists of summer grills and barbecues. Finally sword, tuna and even shark, for true connoisseurs, who love the fish braised and baked.
THE flat fish instead they are thin not only in shape but also in taste and must be cooked quickly and delicately. The best known is the turbot, ideal baked in foil and baked, and then there are the very tasty grouper, ray and sole cooked in the oven with cherry tomatoes, parsley and black olives. Rare flatfish include the Saint Peter fish and halibut which are usually boiled. To flavor the meat, add spices and other vegetables.
And now the time has come to talk to you about molluscs and crustaceans. Let’s start immediately with mussels and clams, fish products that are found quite frequently on our tables, especially raw. The advice is to boil them to open them and find out which ones cannot be eaten. The shells of spoiled molluscs remain closed and give off an unpleasant odor. Crabs and lobsters, on the other hand, are boiled or steamed with their entire shell. Prawns, which have a thinner casing, can be cleaned before cooking.
The final presentation
Small fish are served whole and with the skin on, while larger fish are peeled and filleted, then put back together on the plate.
If you are not very skilled, don’t try to imitate the great chefs, rather try with simple decorations. Cut the lemon into wedges and garnish the dish or use the aromatic herbs and arrange them in a fan. A trio that tantalizes the palate consists of thyme, parsley and dill. The same herbs can be finely chopped and added to mayonnaise, one of the sauces that goes well with full-flavoured fish such as salmon and trout. Finally, if you have tools such as potato peelers and lemon slicers, complete with lemon roses and lime julienne.
Fish in the kitchen: recipes and ideas
Experimenting with fish in the kitchen can lead to tasty and nutritionally rich creations. Here are some creative and tasty ideas on how to incorporate fish into meals:
- Home made sushi – You can experiment with the preparation of sushi with your favorite fish, customizing the combination of raw fish and ingredients according to your tastes.
- Steamed fish with aromatic herbs – Steam cooking keeps the characteristics of the fish intact. In this case, simply cook the steamed fish with fresh herbs such as thyme and parsley for a light and tasty dish.
- Seafood Grill – Grilled fish is a fragrant, varied and tasty dish. Let it be blue fish or swordfish, simply marinate the fish in olive oil, garlic and lemon, then grill it for a healthy dish.
- Fish soup – The typically winter dish brings to the table a soup rich in mixed fish, tomato and Mediterranean flavours.
Obviously the key is to experiment, perhaps taking inspiration from the most popular fish recipes.