Healthy Family Recipe: Nuts About Fish

Do you experiment in the kitchen? I’ve found it to be one of the most relaxing activities at the end of the day.

I like fish. But I am often disappointed when I walk through the fish section of the supermarket because the pieces I see are dull and unattractive. They don’t look fresh and shiny, which is the way I am used to seeing fish.

Last Saturday I went to Central Market and I had a completely different experience. I saw a piece of codfish that was fresh looking and bright, with the pink marks of blood when the skin has recently been removed from the flesh. I took it home with the intention of cooking it for dinner the next day.

When Sunday came I was not inspired at all. I just didn’t know how to prepare the codfish in order to bring out its freshness and flavor. So, I went on a “fishing” expedition through my refrigerator. I often try to rescue “dying” leftover pieces of vegetables or fruits, before they end up in the trashcan. I found an old ¼ of a semi-dry onion and a puny, wrinkly Clementine orange sitting by itself inside one of the lower drawers of the refrigerator. Then I went through the pantry to see if any other ingredients could be utilized.  The creativity was sparkling now.

Inside the pantry I collected a couple of Macadamia nuts and a few almonds. I always keep nuts at home and I often eat a few with my breakfast. It was clear to me that it was time to go back to the market to re-load my nuts department.

So, I decided to place the fresh codfish in an oven-safe dish, applying salt to both sides. I then lightly fried the onion, cut into thin pieces, in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and I poured it over the fish when the onion was still transparent. I squeezed out half of the Clementine’ orange juice over the fish and I grinded some of the zest of the orange on top. I finished up by grating 2 macadamia nuts and 2 almonds right on top of the fish. I placed in the oven at 350 degrees and, voila! 10 minutes later I had a delicious mixed flavors piece of cod ready to enjoy.

My plans for dinner were ruined when Natalie walked into the house and spotted the fish at lunchtime. She ended up eating half of it right there. With half of it gone, I decided to prevent further damage by eating the other half myself.

The mixed flavors of the fish, the tangy scent of orange and the deep, yet mild, forestry savor of the nuts gave a unique combination I was proud off.

As far as the nutrition power of this dish, I don’t even know where to start. Fish provides a source of protein that is cholesterol-free and low calorie. It also provides Omega 3 fatty acids, essential in the prevention of chronic disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc.

Cooking with olive oil provides the best choice when maintaining a healthy diet that is low in poly-unsaturated fats that are not good for the heart. Nuts provide minerals acting as antioxidants in the prevention of aging and chronic alignments, and onions are rich in vitamins and fiber. A win-win situation.

It doesn’t work all the time, but when it works I so feel so accomplished. I have walked into some disasters while experimenting in the kitchen, but I also learned from those mistakes. Such is life.

Marta Katalenas M.D.