We all want seafood that’s high in nutrients and low in toxins. Fish – the oily ones like salmon, tuna and (yuck) sardines provide the healthy omega-3 oils that nourish our brain and heart. But because we care about oceanic environment and over fishing, we want our seafood caught sustainably.
The Best Fish
- Wild Salmon caught in Alaska, such as Sockeye, Chum, Chinook, Coho and Pink
- Fresh water Coho Salmon
- Albacore Tuna but only if pole/line caught in Western US and Canadian waters
- Farmed Rainbow Trout
With that being said, if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breast feeding, limit yourself to only 6 ounces of canned chunk light tuna per month because of the mercury level. I read that the FDA recommends staying away from swordfish, tile fish, mackerel and shark due to harmful mercury levels. These recommendations should also be followed for the diets of young children.
Did you know… eating fish during pregnancy may have a positive impact on your baby’s brain. In a recent study with mice, Japanese researchers found that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega 3s, newborn mice had smaller brains and poor emotional behavior when the mice reached adulthood. The researchers noted a similar dietary pattern has become more common in people. That’s good enough for me…so, if you’re thinking of getting pregnant, eat a diet that includes a good amount of healthy omega 3s to improve the brain development of your precious baby.
I’ve done some research on farmed salmon because I love to eat salmon. What I found is disturbing…they generally are fed chemicals to make the meat red and fed ground up fish containing PCPs. In fact, farm raised salmon may have 7 times the levels of PCPs as wild. Farm raised salmon aren’t privy to a “wild” diet (wild salmon feed on krill), therefore, have much lower levels of Omega 3s. Farmed raised salmon live in crowded pens and are easily infected with parasites. They are treated with antibiotics to combat lice and those antibiotics are then consumed by us resulting in our being more antibiotic resistant. It’s been all over the news lately.
So…for me, I’m sticking to wild…it’s double the price but well worth it when you consider what you’re putting in your body. Plus, wild salmon are caught with gear that does little damage to the environment. Sold. When you find it at a good price, stock up and freeze in single serving size freezer bags for up to 4 months. Just let it defrost in the fridge overnight….never on the counter.
Did you know… BPA-free canned wild salmon is an excellent economical choice and in certain markets you can find it in pouches.
Shocking News Update You Need to be Aware of…
If you eat raw or under cooked salmon, you may be putting yourself at risk of being infected by a tapeworm. The CDC has published a warning stating an invasive Japanese broad tapeworm, once only found in Asia, may be found in salmon caught on the Pacific coast of North America. This includes wild Alaskan salmon. The tapeworm can grow to 30′ in length. Yes…30 feet.
The following 4 salmon species are particular risks as they are transported all over the world without being frozen.
So, what are we to do?
How can we enjoy eating healthy salmon without the risk of being infected?
- Purchase frozen salmon or freeze fresh salmon for a minimum of 15 hours at -31 degrees to kill parasites.
- Cook your salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees to remove any dangerous pathogens not killed by freezing.
Do I have to give up my Sushi?
No…but I would be vigilant in knowing exactly where your Sushi comes from. Enjoy it in reputable restaurants where they pride themselves on the best and never purchase Sushi in supermarkets as the guy behind the counter has no clue where it came from other than their seafood distributor. I’ve asked this question about salmon that is labeled “wild”, but just looking at it, I can tell it’s definitely farmed.
Back to salmon…while the overall risk of being infected may be small, I’ll stick to cooking it. Why take a chance? The majority of people infected by the Japanese broad tapeworm have no symptoms other than perhaps a little upset stomach, nausea or loose stools…but remember…up to 30′. That’s a picture that will be in my mind forever.
But…for many seafood lovers…it’s all about the LOBSTER!
When my daughter and her husband to be bought their first home in North Carolina, we wanted their celebratory dinner to be a special gift from “home”. After all, Chelsea missed her New England roots AND she does love live Maine lobster! Dale, on the other hand, hales from England so this was a relatively new experience for him. They don’t have lobster in England. (Can you imagine?!)
Did you know that a lobster can grow to 45 pounds? Oh yea…but the best portion size in my opinion is 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. More on this later…
Living in New England, enjoying fresh lobster is always a delicious treat but really not that big of a deal because it’s so easily available…but in North Carolina – it IS a big deal…a VERY big deal. The closest they have, as easily accessible, is the Louisiana crawfish. Here in the northeast we have access to the very best (in my humble opinion) lobster in the country…Maine cold water, hard shell lobster…enough said…and I’m sure we northerners take that for granted.
So…off to the fishmonger I went to purchase 4 Maine hard shell lobsters; have them steamed while I waited and brought them home where I immediately tucked them away for a long freezers night.
The next morning I prepared them for departure. At this point the lobsters, frozen in their shells, were put into a sealed plastic bag and placed into a box just the right size so they were tightly packed and surrounded by several frozen gel packs. I mailed them “overnight”…a tad pricey but for a very special occasion, worth every penny, or should I say dollar. My only hint of the surprise en route was sending a text message saying “Don’t make dinner plans tomorrow evening. Dinner will be arriving at your doorstep…just pick up a few lemons and extra butter on your way home.” 🙂
The lobsters arrived on schedule and needless to say – Chelsea and Dale’s first dinner in their new home was THE best delicious New England treat…a smashing success!
Of course you can have live fresh Maine lobster shipped directly to you from a number of lobster companies but you will pay through the nose. I chose the DIY method to provide a delicious memory at an affordable price.
Bringing home live and kicking lobster for dinner?
If you’ve just picked up lobster for a delicious and succulent dinner, just keep them in the lower section of the fridge in a plastic bag until ready to prepare. If you plan on having them tomorrow, you need to wrap each of them in damp newspaper and put them in a plastic bag with frozen gel packs. In the refrigerator, a hard shell lobster will stay alive for 36 hours. Whatever you do, don’t remove the rubber bands around the claws…they’re there for a reason and if you like your fingers…you’ll not remove them.
This is how we do it in New England…
For boiled lobster, prepare a big pot of well salted (I use sea salt) boiling water. Gently place each lobster head first into the boiling water and quickly cover. Boil 10-12 minutes or until the tail is stiffly curled under the belly and the shell is a nice shade of red.
For steamed lobster, fill a big pot with 2″ of water, 1-2 tablespoons sea salt and a steam rack on the bottom. If you don’t have a steam rack that fits your pot, you can always use wadded up aluminum foil. Bring the water to a boil. Place the lobster into the pot head first, cover, bring back to a boil and steam 10 minutes for a 1lb lobster, 12-14 minutes for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2lb lobster and 16 minutes for a 2 pounder.
If you have your fishmonger steam lobster for you while you wait (a major time saver) keep them in the fridg until dinner.
Serve one lobster per person along with a “nut” cracker, seafood scissors, a seafood pick, a bowl for the empty shells, a small bowl with melted butter, lemon wedges and plenty of paper napkins and wet wipes. If you don’t have a nut cracker, you can use a mallet. Lobster cracking and eating is a deliciously fun but messy meal.
This is the traditional way to enjoy lobster, however, depending on your guests and your dinner menu, you may opt to do the “cracking” yourself. If you choose this method, heat a large skillet on medium-low heat and melt sticks of butter. Don’t scrimp here…use the real thing…no margarine allowed! Extract the meat from the tail and claws, letting the meat warm in the melted butter. Save the legs and suck out the meat and juices…just do it. The lobster meat is going to soak up the warm buttery goodness and will practically melt in your mouth.
To Eat or Not to Eat
The roe is considered a delicacy, “lobster caviar”, but only if it’s red in color. Black roe indicates it wasn’t steamed long enough to turn red. Although some enjoy consuming the tomalley (the green stuff), I don’t recommend it as tomalley is actually the liver and pancreas and because it acts as a filter, it may contain high levels of toxins.
Does size matter?
As I mentioned earlier, in my opinion the perfect portion size is 1 1/2 – 2lbs each. Hard shell lobster tend to have more meat, however, the soft shell lobsters are much easier to crack. Some say the smaller ones tend to be sweeter but the much larger ones have more meat per pound. Ultimately, size doesn’t matter when it comes to lobster, it’s all based on personal preference and the perfect cooking time…don’t overcook your lobster!
Serve with chilled pinot grigio,
Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this blog post or even picked up on something you weren’t aware of. I look forward to your comments, suggestions and if you have a question…I will help to get an answer. Click “Seafood” in the menu bar for some delicious recipes! Thanks for sharing!