Fish, Three Ways

Whole30 is all about eating high-quality proteins, but as someone who only started eating red meat and pork last year, there are only so many meat sticks I can handle. Enter seafood.

The health benefits of fish are very well documented so I’ll just give you a brief summary. A diet rich in fish can improve your life in many ways, from help warding off heart disease to easing depression to enriching your hair and skin.  It’s also one of the only great dietary sources of Vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon (wild), mackerel, albacore tuna (canned), sardines, anchovies, mussels, rainbow trout, and a few others are particularly high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are notoriously lacking in the typical American diet. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to heart health, regulate triglyceride levels, and can aid in preventing or easing many health conditions including osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and certain cancers.

To up my fish intake while ensuring that I picked high-quality fish and seafood, I took a trip to Whole Foods, which abides by pretty good standards for sourcing responsibly-raised and sustainable seafood. You don’t have to have access to a Whole Foods or a world-class fish market though.  Just familiarize yourself with the best and worst types of fish to buy.  You can learn a lot about seafood sustainability and which types of fish/seafood to avoid from the Food and Water Watch, a consumer-rights NGO that focuses on corporate and government accountability in the food industry. Or you can check out a list of the Best Fish— fish that are both rich Omega-3s and environment-friendly.

While at Whole Foods, I picked three types of fish from three different departments.  First, I went to the fresh seafood and fish department. I always check what’s on sale at Whole Foods and buy accordingly because high-quality fresh fish can be very pricy. I found wild-caught cod for $11.99/pound, which is pretty inexpensive for wild-caught fish in New York City. Then, I took a trip to the frozen fish section. This is where you can find great deals because frozen fish is always cheaper than freshly caught. For instance, while fresh wild salmon can cost over $20/pound, I found frozen wild salmon for $11.50/pound at Whole Foods (a 2 pound bag with about 6-8 salmon fillets cost $22.99). Finally, I took a trip to the canned fish section. I picked up a couple of tins of wild-caught sardines.

I know not everyone is a fan of sardines, but I encourage you to give them a try. They taste like a meatier version of tuna and they’re a nutrition powerhouse — sardines are one of the highest sources of Omega-3s and are packed with protein and tons of vitamins. Plus, they’re most frequently purchased in a can, so it’s a perfect option for a lazy, no-cook meal.

I came home after a long day at work this week and had zero energy to cook. So, I tossed together a salad with sardines that took 10 minutes to put together. I feel sort of bad listing this as a “recipe” because it involves no cooking, but I’ve also seen “Semi-Homemade” Sandra Lee of the Food Network dump Cool Whip over store-bought Angel Food Cake and call it a “recipe.”

Tropical Sardines Salad

Serves 1

Ingredients 

Salad

  • 2 cups mixed greens of choice (baby spinach, arugula, kale, etc.)
  • 1/2 grapefruit, sliced into segments
  • 1 carrot, ribboned (use a wide vegetable peeler to create ribbons)
  • 1 tin of wild-caught sardines
  • 2 TBSP macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp hemp seeds
  • 1 TBSP shredded coconut

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

  • 1 TBSP grapefruit juice (use other half of grapefruit)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • pinch of freshly grated ginger (or substitute powdered ginger)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Plate salad with greens, top with carrot ribbons, sardines, and grapefruit slices.
  2. Whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette. Pour over salad.
  3. Top salad with macadamia nuts, hemp seeds, and shredded coconut.

I liked how the summer, tropical flavors paired with the fish, so I continued that trend with my next two fish dishes over the weekend.

Cod in Coconut-Lime-Ginger Sauce

Processed with VSCOcam with a7 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with e6 preset

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cod fillets (5-6 oz each)
  • 2.5 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (include membranes and seeds if you like some heat)
  • 2.5 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • Several splashes of Red Boat fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBSP crushed macadamia nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cod in a glass baking dish.
  2. Season cod with salt and pepper and brush with 1 1/2 tsp lime juice.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; sauté 5-10 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add coconut milk and leftover lime juice to pan; boil until mixture is thick, about 4 minutes. Add lime zest and fish sauce.
  5. Spoon sauce over cod fillets. Bake in oven until fish is just opaque in center, about 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer cod fillets to serving plates. Whisk sauce in baking dish. Spoon around cod; top with cilantro and crushed macadamia nuts.
Wild Cod in Coconut-Lime-Ginger Sauce, served with oven-roasted rainbow carrots with cilantro gremolata and a simple baby spinach and arugula salad in grapefruit vinaigrette
Wild Cod in Coconut-Lime-Ginger Sauce, served with oven-roasted rainbow carrots with cilantro gremolata and a simple baby spinach and arugula salad in grapefruit vinaigrette

My third and final fish dish this week was macadamia-nut crusted salmon. You may be noticing a theme here: macadamia nuts. These nuts are pricy, but I figured I should treat myself to these sweet, buttery balls of heaven because I’m spending zero money on booze and very little on dining out for the next 30 days. Macadamia nuts complement fish very well – they add a a buttery bite, a little bit of tropical flare, and a crunchy finish.

I served this salmon dish with oven-roasted sweet potatoes and caramelized onions and broccolini.

Macadamia Nut-Crusted Salmon

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 wild salmon fillets (4-6 oz. each)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter), plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 2 TBSP parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/2 TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Sauce

  • 1 TBSP ghee
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Drizzle a little coconut oil or ghee onto bottom of glass baking dish. Place salmon fillets in dish and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush salmon fillets with coconut oil or ghee.
  4. In a bowl, combine the macadamia nuts, parsley, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic until the mixture forms a paste.
  5. Spread the paste onto the salmon fillets.
  6. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. (Our fillets were very thin, so 10 minutes was plenty of time, and we could’ve gotten away with 8 or 9 minutes. Adjust the cooking time according to the thickness of your fillets).

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