Growing up in Alabama, I spent a lot of time on lakes and rivers fishing with my family. Sometimes it was grueling, especially in the heat of summer or at the 5 a.m. wake up call to get the fish before it got too hot. And let’s not even talk about the worms and crickets. But that one nibble that sent the cork bobbing changed the whole tone of the day and left me with some great childhood memories. Many of which I re-live each visit back to see the family. When I moved to New Zealand I graduated from a bobbing cork and crickets to the nymphs and dry flies of fly fishing. While those days could be equally grueling (picture wind, knots in the line and water-logged waders), the scenery and the thrill of catching and cooking a trout had me…well…hooked. So maybe those experiences are what shaped my love of fish, eating it to be precise.
I often have clients tell me they don’t eat fish. When I ask why (while doing my best to disguise my shock and horror), most times it’s because they don’t know how to cook it. Fish is actually one of my go-to favourites for a quick and easy meal so I’m always a bit surprised when someone is intimidated by it. Of course there are a few fish that require quite a bit of work (think rainbow trout and a million bones) but depending on the fish, most of it can be done by your fishmonger.
Two things I love about fish is the nutrition it provides and the versatility in cooking and pairing it with other foods. Most often I choose fish fillets with skin on such as salmon and ocean trout because they’re high in healthful omega 3 fatty acids, but snapper, flathead and blue-eye cod are also on my hit list and make for a fine fish taco! If you’re looking for the healthful benefits of Omega 3s, stick with coldwater fish such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies which provide good whacks of EPA/DHA, the Omega 3s most beneficial in inflammation, cardiovascular health, depression and memory. Fish can be paired with just about anything (salad, pasta, rice) and is great steamed, baked, pan fried or grilled. Choosing an oily fish means little additional oil for cooking is needed. I put a bit of sea salt on the skin (if using trout, salmon and blue-eye) to help it crisp and a smidge of olive oil or coconut oil in the pan to keep it from sticking. Baking in paper in another great method, as it’s quick and holds in moisture.
One of my favourite post-training lunches is pan-fried ocean trout with a simple salad like this one—rocket, apple, pecans and a little buffalo mozzarella. This dish is a great whack of protein, Omega 3s, bitter greens that aid in digestion of the protein, replenishing carbohydrates and crisp, clean flavours.
Here are a few of my other favs to inspire you:
Flathead Fillets Baked in Paper with Chilli, Mango and Avocado
Pan-fried Flathead with Tomato, Caper and Celery Salsa