Seafood is the perfect antidote to the effects of all those enjoyable indulgences of the festive season.
It is nutrient rich with high-quality protein, omega-3, B vitamins, minerals and usually very little fat. However, the number of calories consumed will depend on how the fish is prepared. Fish dipped in batter and fried has 1270 kilojoules (303 kilocalories) in 100g but the same amount of fish baked has 519 kilojoules (124 kilocalories).
Whether you catch your own or buy it, seafood requires special attention. When shopping for fish, buy the best quality available on the day rather than making up your mind ahead of time. Different varieties can be adapted to the same recipe. The selection on offer will depend on the season and where you live. Contrary to popular belief, most of the fish available from fish shops is not frozen. Once caught, it is kept on crushed ice until it reaches the stores. Ideally, fish should still be kept on ice instore - or on chilled trays - in a cold atmosphere with air circulating. Packaged fish cannot "breathe" so odours tend to accumulate.
Once home, unwrap the fish and rinse quickly under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels then have a sniff. The smell should have a fresh, sea-like quality, not sour or sharp. Store fish on a clean plate covered loosely with waxed paper in the refrigerator. Consume within 12 to 24 hours, depending on the variety.
Cooking seafood requires less skill than preparing many other foods. But don't overcook fish or it will dry out and lose flavour.
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and diced
1 tbsp chopped French tarragon
8 small-medium tomatoes, quartered
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
2-3 tsp raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 150g skinned and boned white fish fillets
4 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
Heat oil in a heavy frying pan.
Add garlic and saute for a few seconds.
Add chilli and tarragon and saute for 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes, season, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add vinegar then fish, covering it with the tomato mixture.
Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness, or until fish is just cooked.
Add olives and capers.
Great served on potato mash or creamy polenta.
Fish pie with pea & potato topping
Canned fish could be used in place of the fresh fish.
Sauce: 2 tbsp butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup fish or chicken stock
Salt, pepper and chilli powder
Fish: 200g skinned, boned fish
1/2 cup stock
1/2 small red pepper, diced
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
Topping: 1 large potato
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauce: melt butter in a small pan. Saute shallot for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in flour. Gradually add stock, stirring continuously, until thick. Season.
Fish: poach in stock until just cooked. Drain and coarsely flake. Add to sauce with red pepper and capers. Pour into two ramekins.
Topping: peel and cube the potato and cook until tender, adding peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
Drain, add the butter, season, and mash well.
Spoon over fish in ramekins. Top can be dotted with butter, if preferred. Reheat in microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, until bubbling.
Salmon with nectarine salad
Salsa: 3-4 firm but ripe nectarines, stoned and thinly sliced or cubed
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup each: sliced basil, chopped coriander
1 tsp diced chilli
Salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze lime juice
Salmon: 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each: sugar, grated root ginger, crushed garlic
4 salmon fillets, bones removed
Spray olive oil
Combine ingredients for salad in a bowl.
Combine teriyaki sauce, oil, sugar, ginger and garlic. Brush over salmon.
Spray a non-stick frying pan with oil.
Pan-fry the salmon for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until cooked to your preference.
Serve topped with the salad.
Seafood & shells
20 mussels, steamed, shelled
400g skinned, boned white fish
1/2 cup white wine or fish stock
2 cups small dried pasta shells
100g snow peas
1 red pepper
Dressing: 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
Remove tongues from mussels, if preferred. Cut fish into 3cm pieces. Bring wine or stock to a simmer in a pan.
Add fish and poach 3 to 4 minutes. Cool.
Cook pasta according to the packet. Add snow peas during last minute of cooking. Strain and cool by holding under cold running water in a sieve. Drain and pat dry.
Seed and slice pepper. Combine with seafood, pasta and snow peas in a large bowl.
Whisk together herbs, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, then oil.
Pour over salad and mix.
Serves 4 to 6