Polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3’s) are great for nerve and brain development, some of which our bodies cannot produce, meaning we either have to take a supplement or get them from food. The following five fish are particularly high in these.
Aside from having an amazing flavour profile, this fatty fish is also a great source of protein and vitamins A, C and E and can be cooked in a myriad of ways. Generally, there are two types of salmon—Atlantic and Pacific. Atlantic salmon is farm-raised, while Pacific salmon is caught from the wild. Wild-caught salmon is leaner and healthier than its farm-raised counterparts, but salmon raised in a controlled environment isn’t necessarily bad for you.
Whether you buy farm-raised salmon or not boils down to where you’re buying it and how strict their sourcing standards are. Salmon can be sold whole, in steaks, or in fillets. When buying salmon, or any fish for that matter, freshness is the most critical factor. Fresh salmon should never have a strong “fishy” odour. Its flesh should be bright, its eyes clear and its skin firm.
Generally, there are two types of salmon—Atlantic and Pacific.
There are different species of salmon sold commercially, but the most common ones that you see in the market are Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink. Salmon can be sold whole, in steaks, or in fillets. When buying salmon, or any fish for that matter, freshness is the most critical factor. Fresh salmon should never have a strong “fishy” odour. Its flesh should be bright, its skin firm (with no trace of slime) and the eyes should not be cloudy or sunken in.
HOW TO COOK SALMON
Grilling is the healthiest way to cook salmon. Start the grill and make sure the temperature is very high. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes before grilling so that the grates are very hot. Gently cover the fish in canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Once the grill is hot, place the salmon flesh side down on it and cook for a couple of minutes. Using tongs, turn the fish 45 degrees to the left or right and lay back down. This will give the fish those coveted cross-hatch grill marks. After a couple more minutes, flip the fish over and finish cooking to your preferred doneness. Remove and serve with fresh lemon wedges and dill.
Aside from grilling, searing salmon is the most common method of cooking it. When searing salmon, you’ll want to use a neutral oil, like vegetable or sunflower, and a sauté pan to ensure the fish gets a really good sear. Place a pan over high heat and add a liberal amount of oil to the pan. Season fish with salt and pepper. Right before the oil starts to smoke, lay the fish in the pan, flesh side down, away from yourself. Gently work the pan back and forth to keep the fish from sticking to the pan. Cook for at least 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour out the oil, flip the fish over and place the pan in the oven at 175°C / 350°F for about 5 minutes. Salmon is best served medium, so depending on how thick your fillet is, cooking times will differ.
Remember, unless you’re poaching salmon, leave the skin on. The tough, fatty skin is one of the best tools against overcooking it.
You may not be familiar with salt-baked salmon but it is an innovative method that is easy to accomplish. You’ll want to use the whole fish and keep it intact with the skin, tail and head on. Just make sure it has been gutted and rinsed clean. Using a large bowl, add 3-5 lb (depending on the size of the fish) of Kosher salt and ½ cup of water. Mix the water and salt until it reaches the consistency of wet sand. Place half of the salt mixture on a sheet pan and place the fish directly on top. Fill the cavity with lemon slices and fresh herbs like dill or lime kaffir. Then cover the fish completely with the remaining salt and pack down firmly. Place the pan in the oven at 200°C / 400°F and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven and allow it to rest in the salt for 10 minutes. Then, remove the salt from the fish, transfer it to a serving platter, peel back the skin, and serve portions of the cooked salmon.
Mackerel is inexpensive and fantastic for you! This firm-fleshed, oil-rich fish contains creamy meat with a very distinctive, strong flavour, and is consumed worldwide. There are many species of mackerel and mercury levels vary for each. Baking, grilling and roasting are common cooking methods for mackerel but the simplest way to prepare it is quickly pan-frying the fillets; just remember to remove the pin bones first. Mackerel is also great poached and made into pâté or served raw in the form of a tartare or ceviche – just be sure to use the freshest fish possible, since this fish spoils fast. If you’re pairing it with other foods, choose clean, soft flavours like cucumber to balance out its strong flavor or sharp fruits like rhubarb and cherries which will cut through the oiliness.
It’s been called the ‘chicken of the sea,’ loved for its savory and ‘meaty’ flavor and is just as likely to be found in sandwiches as it is in a high end sushi restaurant. Along with salmon, tuna supplies the largest amount of dietary protein of any fish. There are 15 species of tuna but the five most common varieties are albacore, yellowfin, bluefin, bigeye and skipjack. Albacore is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids and its moderate fat content (7%) and mild flavor makes it great for grilling. It has the palest flesh of all the tuna species and, when cooked, its meat turns off-white, which is why it’s known as “white meat” tuna when canned. Although all uncooked fish can contain parasites that can cause sickness, albacore tuna rarely contain parasites. If consuming tuna raw, look for the freshest, highest-quality fish available. For the best flavor, serve rare and marinate before cooking. If that’s not desirable, it’s best prepared grilled, pan-seared, baked, and sous vide. If you’re buying canned tuna, look for the kind that’s packed in olive oil for the best flavor, and choose “light” tuna (skipjack) if you’re concerned about mercury levels.
Along with salmon, tuna supplies the largest amount of dietary protein of any fish.
Trout is a species of freshwater fish closely related to salmon and char. It has a flavorful flesh and, even though it is somewhat bony, as long as you don’t overcook it, its ‘meat’ will easily fall off the bones. There are many delicious ways to prepare trout but we wanted to include our favorite recipe for Trout Almondine, which is a fancy name for pan fried trout in butter with slivered almonds. Trout also makes a great base for dips and spreads, especially if it’s smoked first. No matter how you decide to cook trout, leave the skin on. It’s super tasty and plenty of omega-fish oils are encased within it and the under layer.
Full of iron and Vitamin D, sardines have been called a natural multivitamin by some experts, but these small, oil fish aren’t for everyone. They smell strong and they taste even stronger. A member of the herring family, sardines are commonly canned in either oil, water or chili and tomato sauce. Its soft skin and bones are perfectly edible (you barely notice them) and contain a lot of calcium content. Fresh sardines are harder to get your hands on, depending where you are in the world, but they are delicious, commonly fried or grilled and served with lemon. Bonus fact: sardines are very budget-friendly.
*Note: Pregnant women should only eat low-mercury fish, such as salmon, sardines, and trout, and no more than 12 ounces (340 grams) per week. This article is purely informational. Please consult a physician for all health related concerns.