Seafood is the perfect antidote to the effects of all those enjoyable indulgences of the festive season.
It is nutrient rich with high-quality protein, omega-3, a variety of B vitamins, several minerals and usually little fat. However, the number of calories consumed will depend entirely on how the fish is prepared.
Fish dipped in batter and fried has 1270 kilojoules (303 kilocalories) per 100 grams, whereas the same amount of fish baked has 519 kilojoules or 124 kilocalories.
Whether you catch your own or purchase it from a shop, seafood requires special attention.
When shopping for fish, buy the best quality available on the day, rather than making up your mind ahead of time. Many different fish can be adapted to the same recipe. The selection on offer will depend on the season and where you live. Different regions have local fish varieties.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the fish available from fish shops is not frozen. Once caught, it is kept on crushed ice until it reaches the stores.
Ideally, fish should still be kept on ice instore - or on chilled trays - in a cold atmosphere with air circulating around it. Packaged fish cannot breathe, so odours tend to accumulate. Once home, unwrap the fish and rinse quickly under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels then have a sniff. The smell should have a fresh, sea-like quality, not sour or sharp.
Store fish on a clean plate covered with waxed paper in the refrigerator. Consume within 12 to 24 hours of purchase, depending on the variety.
Cooking seafood generally requires less skill than preparing many other foods. However, don't overcook - it will dry out and lose much of its flavour.
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp chopped French tarragon
8 small-medium tomatoes, quartered
Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste
2-3 tsp raspberry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 x 150g skinned and boned white fish fillets, such as tarakihi
4 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add the chilli and tarragon and saute for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, season, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Add the vinegar, then the fish covering it with the tomato mixture. Simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, or until the fish is just cooked. Add the olives and capers.
Great served on potato mash or creamy polenta. Serves 2.
FISH PIE WITH MUSHY PEA AND POTATO TOPPING
Canned fish could be used in place of the fresh fish.
Sauce: 2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp flour
cup fish or chicken stock
Salt, pepper and chilli powder to taste
Fish: 200g skinned and boned fish
small red pepper (capsicum), diced
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Topping: 1 large potato
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauce: Melt the butter in a small pan. Saute the shallot for one to two minutes.
Stir in the flour. Gradually add the stock stirring continuously, until thick. Season.
Fish: Poach the fish in the stock, until just cooked. Drain and coarsely flake.
Add to the sauce with the red pepper and capers.
Pour into two ramekins.
Topping: Peel and cube the potato. Cook in boiling water until tender. Add the peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
Drain, add the butter, season and mash well. Spoon over the fish in the ramekins.
The top can be dotted with butter, if preferred. Reheat in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until bubbling. Serves 2.
SALMON WITH NECTARINE SALAD
Salsa: 3-4 firm but ripe nectarines, stoned and thinly sliced or cubed
red pepper (capsicum), diced
cup each: sliced basil, chopped coriander
1 tsp diced chilli
Salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze of lime juice
Salmon: 3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each: sugar, grated root ginger, crushed garlic
4 salmon fillets, bones removed
Spray olive oil
Combine the ingredients for the salad in a bowl.
Combine the teriyaki sauce, oil, sugar, ginger and garlic. Brush over the salmon.
Spray a non-stick frying pan with oil. Pan-fry the salmon for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your preference.
Serve topped with the salad. Serves 4.
SEAFOOD AND SHELLS
20 mussels, steamed and shelled
400g skinned and boned lean white fish
cup white wine or fish stock
2 cups small dried pasta shells
100g snow peas
1 red pepper (capsicum)
Herb dressing: 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs
4 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Remove the tongues from the mussels, if preferred.
Cut the fish into 3cm pieces. Bring the wine or stock to a simmer in a medium frying pan. Add the fish and poach for 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked. Cool.
Cook the pasta shells according to the packet instructions. Add the snow peas during the last minute of cooking.
Strain the pasta and peas and cool by holding under cold running water in a sieve. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
Seed and thinly slice the red pepper. Combine with the seafood, pasta and snow peas in a large bowl.
Whisk together the herbs, vinegar, mustard, garlic and salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil and pour over the salad.
Mix well. Serve chilled. Serves 4 to 6.
The Marlborough Express