Fish consumption spikes during Lent. Health-wise, this is not a bad thing. Yes, there have been mercury concerns about eating certain fish, but for the most part, fish is the healthiest animal protein. We are so blessed here with our seafood choices. We are lucky to live on an island with great cooks and fantastic fish dishes. Jamaicans revere fish and it's not hard to convince family and friends to take a road trip to any of the celebrated fishing spots and villages around the island. Nothing beats fresh air, sea, and sand between your toes while enjoying a feast of freshly caught fish which is typically fried, steamed, roasted or simmered in a brown stew, curry coconut or garlic sauce. What is even sweeter is actually being on a boat during a fishing expedition with a cooler of cold drinks plus a few seasonings, and cooking the fish you have caught right then and there. Absolute bliss!
Of course, for those who live in the city, the reality is, living on an island paradise or not, sometimes for the sake of convenience or lack of access, frozen fish is bought. Luckily our local seafood companies supply great products for us to purchase. Items such as shrimp and fish fillets are especially quick-cooking and make fantastic meals when you are exhausted and famished at the same time. They are also perfect for those occasions when an unexpected hungry guest or two present themselves at your door and you need to rustle up a quick meal. While growing up, I witnessed my mother make brilliant meals in a short space of time when my father brought people over to the house unannounced. It's smart to study and perfect at least one or two go-to recipes to add to your personal repertoire for these last-minute occasions.
There are many benefits to eating a diet rich in fish. Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon contain heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a lot of fish cuts down your risk of heart disease. Secondly, fish contains fewer calories than meat protein. Eating fish is recommended at least twice a week. Fish is very flexible and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Fish can be eaten raw, like Japanese sushi; cured, for example Swedish gravadlax; Latin-style ceviches or European tartars to standard cooked dishes. Cooking times for fish vary, but they tend to be shorter than those for meat because the flesh is more delicate.
Regardless of your preference, there is a fish for every season and palate, so choosing this option is a good decision. Fish is full of good protein, rich in vitamins and minerals, so it is a great nutritional option, not just for the Lenten period. Make it a habit to include fish in your diet as often as possible, according to your budgetary reality.
Fish Fillets with Tomato and Basil
This rustic fish dish is very easy to prepare and tastes so delicious with few ingredients. It's garlicky, spicy from the chilli, and fragrant from the herbs. You can use any sort of white fish fillet such as snapper, tilapia, grouper or basa. Just make sure everything is super fresh. This is the sort of dish I made frequently in Europe. I like to eat this with French-style bread.
4 fish fillets
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, roughly cut
1 chilli (or hot pepper), roughly chopped
Basil leaves, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Generously season fish fillets with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat a generous amount of olive oil over high heat.
Add the fillets, garlic, tomatoes, half the basil, chilli and then cover with a little water.
Cook for about three to four minutes per side or until fillets are cooked through. Once fish is cooked, remove from the sauce.
Continue cooking the sauce until it is a little thicker, then pour over fillets.
Garnish with extra basil leaves.
Sautéed Mushrooms and Yellow Squash
I love quick sautés for delicious side dishes. I recently had some mushrooms and yellow squash and decided to toss them together.
1 carton of mushrooms, sliced
3 small yellow squash, sliced
Salt and pepper
Cilantro, for garnish
In a medium frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add sliced mushrooms and squash, and toss around until cooked through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with cilantro.
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