Eat healthy. Eat seafood. It can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, it can lower blood pressure and may even help ward off depression. The magic ingredients are the omega-3 fatty acids which are notably common in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. Cooking temperatures should be kept to medium though as high heat can destroy the fatty acids.
All seafood contains goodly amounts of protein, has low levels of saturated fat and contains vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Although some shellfish can be high in cholesterol this does not necessarily directly transfer to cholesterol in the blood. Certain larger fish like shark and marlin may contain some mercury which can cause brain and nerve damage. However, the seafood highest in the omega-3 fatty acid levels have the lowest mercury counts.
Fish sauce adds that secret umami to many seafood dishes with its sweet, salty, funky flavour. A dash can be added to most seafood dishes in moderation. It’s prepared from small fish such as anchovies which are packed in barrels with salt and fermented for up to two years. Although most of us consider it an Asian condiment, fish sauce has been used for thousands of years by cultures ranging from the Greeks to the Chinese.
CREAMY SEAFOOD PASTA
50g fettuccine or similar
16 clams or mussels in their shells
1 shallot, diced
4 small portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine
500g cooked prawns
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
225g cream cheese at room temperature
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Wash the clams or mussels well. Remove the beards from the mussels.
Sauté the shallot and mushrooms in the oil in a deep frying pan, until softened. Add the garlic and heat through. Add the clams or mussels and white wine. Reduce the heat, cover and cook until the shellfish just open. Discard those that don’t. Add the prawns, the fish sauce and the cooked, drained pasta. Mix well.
Stir in the cream cheese and mix until well coated. Great served with lemon wedges. Serves 4.
WALNUT & OLIVE BAKED FISH
300g skinned and boned white fish eg monk fish, tarakihi, hoki
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 pitted black Kalamata olives, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated rind and juice 1 small lemon
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the fish in a baking dish. Season and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Bake for about 8 minutes depending on thickness.
Combine the remaining oil, walnuts, parsley, olives, garlic, lemon rind and juice in a bowl. Sprinkle over the fish and continue cooking for a further few minutes. Serves 4.
SUPER SEAFOOD CHOWDER
Chowder Base: 1 onion, finely diced
4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
1/2 cup each: plain flour, chardonnay
2 cups fish stock
1 teaspoon fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Seafood: 400g mixed seafood eg green lipped mussels, skinned and boned white fish, squid, prawns
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
To make the chowder base, gently sauté the onion and bacon in the butter in a saucepan, until brown. Stir in the flour. Slowly stir in the chardonnay, cooking until thick. Stir in the fish stock. Add the fish sauce, bring to the boil then add the cream. Season. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Dice the seafood. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Gently sauté the seafood until just cooked through. Add to the chowder together with the parsley. Warm through. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 6.