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Fish for your family

For a source of first-class protein, it is hard to beat fish. In addition to being a fantastic source of protein, fish also provides vitamins, minerals such as selenium and iodine, and is low in saturated fat.

Oily fish is a superb source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is easily digested, quick to cook and highly versatile, and it is recommended that we should eat at least two portions of it a week, including one portion of oily fish. Because fish is low in saturated fat, I recommend that you use it as much as possible in your family's diet in place of meat, which, although a similarly good source of protein, often has a much higher fat content

What to look for when buying fish

  • As it is highly perishable it is vital to buy fish that is spankingly fresh
  • Always buy from somewhere that receives daily supplies of fish
  • Buy fish that is refrigerated or on ice
  • Don't buy frozen fish or shellfish which has damaged packaging
  • Choose fish with clear, bright, glassy, slightly bulging eyes
  • Fish should have moist, bright skin, firm to the touch. Scales should be shiny and there should be none missing
  • Fresh fish should smell clean and sea-like, not strongly fishy
  • When buying smoked fish, choose undyed varieties, without added colour
  • Buy prawns which are dry, bright and firm
  • Buy fish at the end of your shopping trip and take it straight home to refrigerated

Choosing fish

Different types of fish are suitable for a variety of cooking methods, so choose your fish according to your recipe. Be flexible - only buy fish which is fresh and change your menu plans if necessary. However, fish is extremely versatile and different species can often be substituted for one another in recipes.

For making fish pies and stews, choose loins or fillets of chunky white fish such as haddock, smoked fish, salmon and prawns.

For grilling and pan frying, choose thin fillets of fish such as plaice. Cook with skin on to retain moisture.

For kebabs, choose chunks of firm, meaty fish such as monkfish or tuna.
For baking, choose thick fillets, loins or steaks, or whole fish such as mackerel, snapper, sea bass and salmon.

Shellfish, such as prawns, mussels, crab, lobster, squid and scallops, are low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of minerals, such as selenium, zinc copper and iodine. However, due to the risk of allergy and food

poisoning, I recommend you avoid shellfish until your child is 18 months old.
Avoid shark, swordfish and marlin for children under the age of sixteen, as they contain high levels of mercury.

When you get your fish home

  • Put fish and shellfish in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home, making sure that they are wrapped or covered
  • Don't allow raw fish or shellfish to come into contact with cooked foods
  • If marinating seafood, place in the fridge. If you want to use the uncooked marinade to serve with the fish, put some side before using to marinate the raw fish
  • Wash your hands before handling raw fish or shellfish
  • Use separate utensils for preparing raw fish or shellfish
  • Thaw frozen fish or shellfish in the fridge

Top Tips

  • Ask your fishmonger to scale, clean and fillet your fish if necessary
  • Fish cooked on the bone has a better flavour, so cook fish unboned if possible, and the flesh will fall from the bones easily once cooked
  • Always remove all bones from fish served to children to avoid choking
    Canned fish

Canned Fish

Canned fish is both convenient and healthy. The canning process ensures that bones are soft, and may be eaten, providing an excellent source of calcium.

Canned tuna is a nutritious choice but it doesn't contain the levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are present in fresh tuna

Canned sardines - lightly mashed - make a great sandwich filling, or try mackerel and pilchards on toast for a tasty and healthy snack

Canned red salmon is usually wild, so is a great option if you are trying to avoid buying farmed fish.

RECIPE - Fish fingers

To make tasty homemade fish fingers, dip 2.5cm (1 in) thick chunks of white fish in beaten egg and then in fresh breadcrumbs. Bake at 180 degrees C, 160 degrees fan, Gas Mark 4 for 10 - 15 minutes, or shallow-fry in vegetable oil until fish is firm and crumbs are crispy
Taken from Feeding Made Easy by Gina Ford

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