Healthy and deliciously yum fish choices

Wondering what kind of fish to eat (and not to eat) and how to prepare?

From a health standpoint, if you are open to eating fish, by all means, do! And if selection and preparation are holding you back from cooking fish, then follow me into my kitchen and let’s dive in :)

First just a few words about the whys.

Everyone needs protein to repair their body -- and that goes double for people in cancer treatment, for example. Cancer experts I have consulted with say that chemotherapy and treatments that break down cells and tissues can make the body need 50 to 70 percent more protein just to get back to equilibrium. Fish, especially wild-caught, can be a great protein option, because it has the added benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Great for cardiovascular health, brain health, cancer-fighting, pre-and postnatal neurological development, joint health, skin health, and anti-inflammatory properties, fish ABSOLUTELY deserves a place on the flexible-eater’s plate.

What are your best and worst fish choices?

Because these things change from time to time, I recommend you go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch webpage where you can download state-by-state guides to sustainable seafood wherever you work or travel. Seafood Watch recommendations show you which fish are "Best Choices" or "Good Alternatives," and which ones you should "Avoid." Very handy.

I would also add as a general rule, try and look for wild fish rather than farm raised, since the feed pellets used for farm raised fish can be high in Omega 6’s, and you’re better off emphasizing Omega 3’s.

Having a hard time sourcing high quality fish? Fisherman-Founder Randy Hartnell’s company Vital Choice offers high quality, high-integrity wild seafood and organics, and they ship throughout the US.

How best to cook fish?

This is the fun part!

Fish is one of the quicker things to cook. Really, no more than 9 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of fish. Andy Weil has this saying, “Take it out before you think it’s done.” Period. For some reason, we all have it in our heads that it’s going to take as long as a piece of chicken. With that approach, you’ll wind up with a piece of dried food. Ooops!

Here’s what you do: Come home. Marinate the fish in citrus for no more than 15 minutes. Fish definitely benefits from a little citrus. Prep out everything else. The fish goes in, it comes out. You have dinner on the table. Bake, broil, grill or poach. The new fast food!

Top 5 fish menu options

Read the notes and instructions carefully for sensational results!

Triple-Citrus Ginger Black Cod

If black cod were in a band, it would be the bass player: steady, meaty, but not much of a soloist. It benefits from some jazzy front men and especially likes to swing with citrus high notes. You’ll find plenty of those riffs in this dish.

Roasted Halibut with Lime and Papaya and Avocado Salsa

This one’s a crowd pleaser! Bold and pretty enough that it could be served in a Mexican restaurant, especially when made into tacos or tostadas, as in the variation. The marinade contains lime zest, cumin, cilantro, and cayenne, bathing the halibut in a sea of yum, and the Papaya and Avocado Salsa provides a tasty crescendo.

Good Mood Sardines

These humble fish have unusually high levels of Omega-3’s and are rich in cancer-fighting vitamin D and vitamin B12, which helps maintain strong bones. Thanks to their mood-boosting nutrients, sardines are like little antidepressants in a can. That said, some culinary wizardry will be required to turn sardine skeptics into wild-eyed fans. This recipe will do the trick.

Poached Coconut Ginger Salmon

There are so many delightful flavors melded in the broth of this dish that your taste buds will be surprised and tickled. While the coconut broth puts this dish in the “cozy” food category, the infusion of ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves adds an exotic twist. In a few minutes, you’ve gone from simple stock and coconut milk to a delicately balanced silky broth. Magic!

Pan-Seared Curried Scallops

Scallops are an awesome brain food, but a bit temperamental on the stove. They cook mighty fast, and can turn from tender to eraser-tough in a flash. Pay attention, and you’ll get a plateful of bliss. Here, they’re seasoned with curry and a little coconut and lime, which play beautifully off the scallops’ silky taste.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
— John Masefield, Sea Fever
Here’s me with my captain’s hat and jacket on the tugboat my Great Grandfather named after me when I was 6.  He said “Remember, you’re the captain of your own ship!” Marvelous advice.

Here’s me with my captain’s hat and jacket on the tugboat my Great Grandfather named after me when I was 6.  He said “Remember, you’re the captain of your own ship!” Marvelous advice.