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5 Delicious Ways to Prepare Fish Quickly and Healthfully

By Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

Virtually every set of nutrition guidelines - from the American Heart Association to USDA, recommends eating more fish. The reasons to enjoy fish and shellfish go far beyond refined fish oil supplements. It is almost always better to get your nutrition from nutrient-rich whole fish, from arctic char to whitefish.

The first key to preparing fish well is buy fresh fish at the store. Fish should smell sweet; strong, fishy odors mean that it is old. Fresh fish will be bright looking and firm to the touch; reject fish that has brown spots, discoloration, or a slimy surface. Fish is done when the color turns from translucent to opaque (white) or has reached 140 degrees F to 145 degrees F internal temperature. Do not overcook.

1. Grill it!
The best grilling fish are sturdy and fattier, such as grouper, salmon, tuna, swordfish, and trout. Use a very clean, lightly oiled grill or a cedar plank (presoaked in water). For delicate fish, use a grill basket or two layers of foil. Remove fish from the basket or foil as quickly as possible so it doesn’t stick. Most fish will cook in 4 to 6 minutes per side.

2. Bake it!
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet or shallow dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish in a single layer; season as desired. Bake 10 minutes per inch, uncovered or until fish is done. Fish also bakes in parchment paper (folded over and sealed with a few cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, a little wine, and green onions) for about 20 minutes.

3. Sauté it!
Three tips can sauté fish perfectly every time: (1) Use just a bit of olive oil; (2) make certain the pan is thoroughly preheated; and (3) do not overcrowd the fish. Sauté thin fillets over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes; then turn, cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and let the residual heat cook the fish. Sauté thicker fish 4 to 6 minutes per side.

4. Poach it!
Poaching is a cooking method that involves hot liquid, this case milk. Put a firm fish fillet, such as haddock, cod, or salmon, in a small baking dish and cover with non-fat milk. Sprinkle the top with some seasoned bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake fish at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.

5. Microwave it!
Spray a microwave-safe dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut fish in half and arrange in dish so thick center portions are to outside; place fish in a single layer and do not crowd. Microwave on high 5 to 10 minutes, depending on amount and thickness. Make sure to rotate the fish halfway through the cooking time so the fish cooks evenly.

For more fun, easy tips on healthy living, go to www.eatrightmontana.org/eatrighthealthyfamilies.htm



Dayle HayesDayle Hayes, MS, RD
Author, Speaker, and Nutrition Therapist

Dayle Hayes is a registered dietitian committed to innovative, delicious nutrition solutions for busy families. As a consultant to Billings Clinic, she specializes in positive nutrition tips, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. Dayle graduated from U. Mass-Boston and received a Masters of Science in Community Health Education from U. Mass-Amherst.
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