SEA FOOD BASICS
Eating seafood can help prevent heart
attacks and strokes, lower blood pressure and may even ward off
depression. Regular fish consumption reduces the risk of heart
attack by as much as 40 percent. Seafood’s magic ingredient:
Omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty fish, like salmon (fresh and canned),
tuna (fresh and canned), herrings, trout, mackerel and sardines
are loaded with these beneficial fats. Just be careful with
cooking; pan-frying and deep-frying at high temperatures can
destroy Omega 3 fats.
All fish are a good source of protein, have low levels of
saturated fat and contain vitamin E, an important antioxidant.
Seafood is great for people with diabetes, can contribute
calcium (from the small, soft bones in some fish) to one’s diet,
and may reduce the risk of asthma in children. It also can be
low in calories, depending on how it's prepared.
Some people shy away from shellfish because it can be high in
cholesterol. It's important to be aware that cholesterol in food
does not directly transfer to cholesterol in blood. Although it
is important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat,
especially if you have diabetes or heart disease, saturated and
trans fats are more detrimental to serum (blood) cholesterol
than the cholesterol in shellfish. If you are trying to lower
your blood cholesterol, focus on replacing saturated fats with
healthy fats, adding fiber, and exercising instead of counting
Mercury is a big concern with seafood. Some larger fish, like
shark, swordfish and marlin, contain this metal that can cause
brain and nerve damage. It is recommended that pregnant women
and small children avoid these fish, and others limit their
consumption to once per week. Fortunately, the fish highest in
healthful Omega 3s are the lowest in mercury.
Fish & Chips
Pan Fried Fish
Farm Vs Fresh?
Q: Is there any difference
between farm raised fish and wild caught? Specifically taste
and/or nutritional value differences?
A: Though all fish differ, and one could write a book
about wild versus farmed fish, it might be easiest to use salmon
as an example. Wild salmon is much more flavorful than farmed,
and has a silky, flaky texture and a rich, mouth-filling taste.
The color tends to be a deeper red, due to its natural diet of
crustaceans, and the fat is marbled throughout the fish.
On the downside, wild salmon is expensive and the price
fluctuates according to available supply. Wild salmon has a
season, usually from May to September, depending on the variety,
and can be hard to come by -- if not frozen -- the rest of the
Farmed salmon is milder tasting and generally not quite as
firm as wild. The color is a paler pink because their food
contains natural dyes in order to color the flesh. It would also
seem that farmed salmon is higher in PCBs and other toxins than
wild is, though not high enough to trigger FDA disapproval. It
also almost always costs substantially less than wild salmon,
and is available year-round.
The general recommendation is, to buy wild salmon in season
if you can get it, and farmed salmon the rest of the time.
It's not difficult to determine whether seafood is fresh. You
can see freshness through the glass on the supermarket case:
fish fillets and steaks have a bright, translucent quality and
look moist; pass up seafood that looks dull, dry or opaque.
Dark-fleshed fish such as tuna should be bright, not brown. If
buying whole fish, look for shiny bright skin, bright eyes and
moist, red gills.
Fresh fish smells clean and of the ocean, never strong or
fishy. Ask to smell it if you have any question. For both whole
and cut-up fish, the flesh should feel firm to the touch, not
You can also tell a lot about freshness by the way the fish
is stored in the case. Fish deteriorates more quickly than other
protein and must be kept iced, at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Fillets
and steaks should be stored on flaked or shaved ice, not in it,
while whole fish should be buried in the ice. Neither should be
sitting in water or melted ice.
Some shellfish, such as lobsters, crabs, crayfish, mussels,
clams, oysters, must be sold alive unless they are frozen. You
should make sure they are before you buy them. Lobsters, crabs
and crayfish should be lively. The shells of clams, oysters and
mussels should be tightly closed. Shrimp should not have an
ammonia odor or black spots.
We give substitutions for each type of seafood, but the most
important thing when choosing seafood is to choose something
that looks fresh. Other than that, choose fish with similar
texture and fillets or steaks of similar thickness when
Most of us have a prejudice that fresh is better than frozen.
This isn't always true. With current technology, seafood that is
cleaned and frozen immediately can often be better quality than
"fresh" seafood that has spent days in transit. Care in handling
and freezing varies, however, so you're better off learning to
judge quality in a general way, rather than being a stickler for
Once you buy the fish, refrigerate it as quickly as possible.
It's best eaten the day of purchase. Since optimum temperature
for fish storage is 32 degrees F and the inside of your
refrigerator is about 40 degrees F, fish will last longer if
stored on ice. Set the fish, still wrapped, in a colander filled
with ice, then put the colander over another dish. As the ice
melts, the water drains out of the colander. Replenish the ice
as needed. You can also surround the fish with ice packs. Do not
set unwrapped fillets directly on ice.
Store live shellfish in the refrigerator, but do not wrap
them in plastic because they need to breathe. Loosely wrap live
shellfish in a damp dishtowel set in a bowl or pan.