- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Recent reports of the decrease in our ocean resources because of overfishing are distressing for those of us who enjoy the taste and health benefits of fresh seafood.

As much as we love seafood, we need to make responsible choices when we shop.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has published a handy pocket-size brochure color-coding seafood choices as “best,” “cautious” and “should be avoided.”

If you plan to make the delicious recipe that follows, there are quite a few recommended choices to help keep our oceans healthy. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium list, the best choices are:

• U.S.-farmed catfish fillets

• Pacific (not Atlantic) halibut fillets

• Hoki (from the South Pacific and available frozen)

• Alaskan lingcod or black cod

• Wild (Pacific) salmon (not Atlantic farmed)

• White sea bass (not Chilean sea bass)

• Farmed sturgeon, tilapia, striped bass and trout

• Fresh tuna (usually sold as steaks)

One problem a shopper often faces is that fish markets or supermarket seafood counters have too few selections. Tell the managers about the best-choices list and ask them to request one or two of the best choices from their suppliers. Then reward the market by shopping there on a weekly basis. If we all work together, we can make a difference.

Along the way, we can learn more about how to keep our oceans bountiful and our meals healthful and delicious — not just for tonight’s dinner but for generations to come.

Menu

Fish fillets with fresh peach-and-ginger salsa

Tomato-and-corn salad with cilantro

Red and yellow watermelon

Preparation: Marinate fish. Soak onions. Make the salsa and the tomato salad. Cook the fish. At serving time, cut watermelon into slices and cut each slice into triangles. Arrange on a platter and serve family-style accompanied by lime wedges to squirt on each serving.

Fish fillets with fresh peach-and-ginger salsa

The most important thing to know about cooking fish is not to overcook it. It is pure protein, delicate in texture, and it cooks quickly. Grill fillets only if they are at least a half-inch thick. If the fillets are small, I recommend broiling instead of grilling. Do not attempt to turn over small fillets or they will crumble.

MARINADE:

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted (dark) sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 6- to 8-ounce fish fillets, preferably center cut, about -inch thick

SALSA:

3 to 4 ripe peaches, peeled and diced (about 2 cups diced)

cup diced seedless cucumber

cup thinly sliced scallion (white and green parts)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 teaspoon toasted (dark) sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno or more, to taste

1 teaspoon brown (unhulled) sesame seeds or white sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet for about 1 minute

Coarse salt

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger root and garlic in heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add fish, seal bag, shake gently to coat fish and refrigerate until ready to cook, 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Peel the peaches by simmering in boiling water 30 seconds. Transfer to iced water, slip off skins, dice peaches and discard pits. Combine diced peaches, cucumber, scallion, lime juice, ginger root, sesame oil, jalapeno, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Gently fold just to blend. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat grill or broiler or place a large, heavy, nonstick skillet on high heat until hot enough to sizzle and quickly evaporate a drop of water. Lift fish from marinade, reserving a few tablespoons of marinade. Grill fish over high heat 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the intensity of the heat and thickness of the fish. Turn fish carefully with a wide spatula.

Alternately, broil the fish 6 to 10 minutes without turning. Brush on marinade while cooking.

Or, to cook thick fillets in a skillet, sear 2 minutes on one side, then turn and sear 2 minutes more on the other. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the marinade and cook 1 minute more on each side over high heat.

Or if fillets are small and thin, sear over high heat 2 to 3 minutes, brush with marinade, cover and cook 2 minutes or until cooked through. Do not turn.

Serve the salsa spooned over the fish. Makes 4 servings.

Tomato-and-corn salad with cilantro

1 cup sweet onion

Coarse salt

1 pound ripe tomatoes (2 or 3 tomatoes), trimmed and cut into thin wedges

1 or 2 ears of corn, cut from the cob (about 1 cup)

⅔ cup torn cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cut the onion into thin, crescent-shaped slices. Place in a bowl, cover with water, add a teaspoon of coarse salt and a handful of ice cubes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. In a serving bowl, combine the onion, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, vegetable oil, lime juice and salt, to taste. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

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