Pick Fish for a Healthy Weeknight Meal

(The Washington Post) -

Why does the month of May always take me by surprise? It is one of the busier months for parents, yet it doesn’t have the obvious warning signs: There aren’t any extended holidays; the kids are in school and snow days are (hopefully!) over. Nevertheless, it is undeniably a hectic time of year.

Therefore, “simple” is the mantra right now, for everything, especially weeknight dinners. A favorite simple meal is fish and vegetables baked in parchment. What a win-win: nary a pot to clean, just a few minutes of prep time, dinner ready in 20 minutes after kickoff and an outcome high in protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Ahh, life suddenly feels just a bit more manageable.

Some tips:

• At the store, remember that a fresh fish will not have a strong odor.

• Fish stays fresher longer if kept on ice. Place whole fish belly down in a container over a bag of crushed ice inside the fridge. Oily fish go bad quicker, so purchase those close to the day you plan to serve them.

• For each serving, wrap a three-to-five-ounce piece of fish such as halibut or salmon in a piece of folded parchment with a dot of butter, a slice of lemon, salt, pepper and your favorite vegetables (peas and carrots are popular in our family). I bake it on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven, and have found that 12 minutes per inch of thickness seems to be the rule, although salmon often takes longer.

• White fish such as tilapia, cod, flounder and haddock will take on the flavor of a sauce or marinade, so they are ideal for children and people who aren’t fish fans.

• The fish highest in omega-3 fatty acids have the strongest flavors, which may prevail through sauces and marinades. These include salmon, sardines and anchovies.

• Wild Alaskan salmon season just started, and you can get them fresh, as well as the herbs that combine so beautifully with salmon. D.C. chef Sidra Forman  says the fish should be served while it’s still pink in the middle and that you should add herbs after cooking.


Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition education company.