Sunday, May 16, 2010

Heart Healthy Fish and Chips

Fish and chips. Sigh. No matter how I try to justify it to myself, I'm never able to order fish and chips at a restaurant. I just can't do it anymore. Chocolate, yes. Coffee, yes. Ice cream, definitely. Greasy Chinese food with the family, of course. But fish and chips? Something about all that deep-fried goodness gives me a feeling that even an extra 30 minutes at the gym won't take away. When I was younger, it was probably a favourite of mine. In fact, my dear aunt used to walk us to the corner of our block during summer holidays and get us fish and chips to share. It was her favourite too -- especially those fries. Those were wonderful memories; but those fish and chip eating days are sadly long gone.

So what am I to do? Settle for steamed fish, Chinese style, every time I go home for dinner with my parents. Yes, that's a solution. But recently, I had not one but two awesome fish experiences that made me miss fish and chips a little less -- and that's always a good sign. The first one was at this little place called The Fish Store, where there's only limited seating outside, and you get to choose from a long list of different fish and seafood options. Once that's done, your filet is grilled to perfection, topped with a lovely, lime-y sesame-y dressing and served as either a salad, a sandwich, a burrito or over rice. There was nothing heart-attack inducing about this fish, and it tasted just perfect. My best friend opted for calamari, my partner went for haddock, and I chose the fish of the day: grouper. I asked for mine on top of rice -- a sticky combination of wild, red and black rice. After that meal, I almost forgot that the term "fish and chips" ever existed in my vocabulary.

My second fish-epiphany happened in the comfort of my own home, and was created by none other than my skilled partner. You see, we had a dilemma. He was craving fish, but the last time we got it at the supermarket, we ended up returning it 5 minutes after we bought it because it smelled so bad. Nope, we didn't have a fish guy. Solution? Ask your meat guy who he gets fish from. Bingo! A little advice from our friendly butcher and we walked away from the market with 3 beautiful talapia fillets. When we got home, I started working on my marking, and promptly forgot all about them, until I started smelling something delicious. Oh my, yes. He had made healthy fish and chips: the talapia was seared briefly on each side and went into an oven with shallots and broth, the chips were actually pan-roasted potato wedges and to add a little green and some extra nutrition, some asparagus, Ontario's finest. Needless to say, that after this awesome fish experience, I won't need to feel like I'm missing out every time I skip over the fish and chips.

Talapia and pan-roasted veggies

a bunch of asparagus, trimmed
a few new potatoes cut into quarters
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small clove of garlic cut into thin slices

a large talapia fillet
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of broth or water
1 small shallot diced

1. Boil your potatoes and blanch your asparagus until desired tenderness. Set aside. Pre-heat your oven to 350.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a stainless steel pan and heat it up until is just starts to smoke.

3. Season the talapia on both sides with salt and pepper and place in the not pan. Sear for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

4. With the heat turned down to medium, add the shallots and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring up to a simmer. Put the fish back in pop it into the oven for 10ish minutes or until the broth has reduced a bit and the fish is nice and flaky. Remove the fish onto your serving plate (there will be extra sauce! :)

5. Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan. Add your potatoes, asparagus, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes or until the veggies get a bit of golden-ness on the outside. Serve with the fish and forget about deep-fried batter!

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