When I started eating a vegetarian diet six years ago, the hardest meat-based food for me to “give up” was Trader Joe’s Turkey Bacon. The second hardest was fish. (I’d not yet tried sushi, but I’m sure that would have been harder to give up than turkey bacon.)
Back in my pre-vegetarian days, I liked cod, sea bass, orange roughy, et al, but mostly I loved peel and eat shrimp, scallops, and grilled tuna sandwiches (any excuse to eat Miracle Whip…you know my condiment addiction!).
About a year ago, on a whim, I ate a few shrimp, fresh off the grill. They tasted like manna from heaven! A few months after that, I bought orange roughy, and again, flavor Nirvana! Now fish is what’s on my plate at least three days a week. I go easy on salmon and other steak-like fish, including sea bass, though. Very tough for my former-vegetarian stomach to digest. And I just say no to tilapia. Too much omega-6. But trout? Perch? Haddock? Mussels? I’m all over them again. And maybe…just maybe…this year Santa will send me lutefisk. A girl can dream!
This reintroduction of fish to my diet doesn’t mean other meat products are next. I don’t miss chicken or turkey or pork – including bacon – at all, and I haven’t eaten beef in 26 years, so I’ve forgotten what it tastes like. I just remember not liking it much in the first place, except for cold roast beef sandwiches smothered in ketchup! (Again…condiment addiction…)
But fish? I know it’s not emotionally healthy to find joy through food, but it’s OK – at least in my book – to find joy in food, especially when not throwing portion control to the wind. That’s what fish is to me: a mouthful of joy. It tastes good. It makes me smile. I’m happy with 4 ounces of haddock cooked in a little lemon and tarragon or four jumbo shrimp with a tablespoon of cocktail sauce or a half can of tuna on my spinach salad. Like any food, if it’s overeaten, it’s not fun anymore.
It can be confusing choosing the “right” fish. What’s over-fished? What tends to have heavy concentrations of mercury? What about farm-raised? Wild-caught? This article in Nutrition Action Healthletter answers those questions pretty well: “Save Our Seafood: What’s good for us and the oceans.”
A lot of you who belong to the Lynn’s Weigh community on Facebook have expressed your love of specific kinds of fish and its preparation. Here’s one of my favorite recipes. It was invented by my ex-husband, and if I’m ever in a position where I have to choose my last meal ever, this would be it.
(FOOD PORN AHEAD! Of course, if it was truly my last meal for all eternity, I’d add half-and-half and serve it with angel hair pasta, crusty bread, an artichoke with a side of creamy dip, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting… *grin*. Doesn’t everyone have a last-meal fantasy?)
Larry’s Sea Scallops (the healthified version)
1 T light butter
1 small onion, finally chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 pound sea scallops, rinsed, dried and cut in half
¼ t black pepper
2 T lemon juice
1 T lime juice
2 T dry sherry (you really need to add this for that…mmmm flavor)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese (use the brick, not the pre-grated stuff in a jar)
In a skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until onions are translucent.
Add the mushrooms, scallops, pepper, tarragon, lemon and lime juices, and sherry. Cook over low to medium heat until scallops are cooked through and half the liquid is reduced (about 30 minutes. You may need to turn up the heat at the end to reduce more liquid.)
Over low heat, sprinkle the Parmesan on top and let it melt into the dish.
(To make this my last-meal dinner, add ¾ to 1 cup of half and half just before adding the Parmesan…and add more Parmesan…just sayin’. )
What’s your favorite fish? And if you’d care to share, what’s your last-meal fantasy? Talking about any kind of food isn’t illegal here! Go with your bad food self!