Fleur de Lolly column: Omega-3 rich fish offer health benefits
We all know that foods rich in omega-3 are good for us. “Oily” fish is a simple way to incorporate that goodness into our diets. By regularly including these types of fish into our meals, we can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol levels.
I’ll never forget the afternoon I spied smelt in the neighborhood grocery’s fish case. I will be honest with you. I had never heard of smelt. But, yes, I was ready to take one for the Fleur de Lolly team. The taste was on par with sardines. Smelt are “fishy,” but not overwhelmingly so. And, for reference sake, a pound of these fish will feed a crowd! Each little fish measures between 2 to 3 inches long, so plan accordingly.
Smelt are in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, along with their freshwater counterparts, which are common in the Great Lakes. Smelt are only a few inches long and are fried and eaten whole. You can batter with cornmeal or seasoned flour. They cook quickly, so have everything ready before you start frying.
CRUNCHY FRIED SMELT
• 1 pound fresh smelt
• 1 cup cornmeal or seasoned flour
• 2 cups of vegetable oil
Place smelt in a colander and rinse with fresh water. Strain and pat dry with paper towels. Pour your breading mixture into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Add half the smelt into the bag and seal to close. Shake the bag to coat the smelt thoroughly.
In a large, cast-iron skillet, heat oil over high heat to 375 degrees F. Carefully add the prepared smelts into the oil 8 to 10 at a time. Don’t crowd the skillet.
Reduce heat to medium-high and when the fish are golden brown, remove from the oil with a slotted metal spatula. Place the fish in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate. Continue with the remaining smelt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, tartar sauce or ketchup.
BROILED MACKEREL WITH ROBUST ITALIAN TOMATO SAUCE
I love experimenting with new foods. I’ll admit, I had never tried mackerel, and I hesitated for about 10 seconds and took the plunge and purchased 1 1/2 pounds of mackerel fillets. I love the flavor profile of Mediterranean ingredients and chose to make a sauce for the fish showcasing tomatoes and Italian flavors.
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon butter
• 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
• 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
• 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
• 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, oregano and garlic
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (optional, but please consider using!)
• 1 tablespoon drained capers
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Juice of one lemon
• 1 1/2 pounds mackerel fillets
In a medium skillet, add olive oil and butter. Turn heat to medium and let the butter melt. Add onions and cook, frequently stirring, until onions soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the next six ingredients and reduce heat to low. Continue to stir frequently until the mixture reduces somewhat, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add a few shakes of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste and add more if necessary. Just before serving, add lemon juice and stir to blend. Remove from heat.
And now to cook the fish!
Preheat the broiler to high.
Rinse mackerel fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Remove any pin bones that may still be attached to the fish.
Place fish on a baking sheet. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and lightly salt and pepper. Place under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until the fillets are thoroughly cooked. Remember to keep a close watch on the fish so that it doesn’t burn. Midway through the cooking time, you may need to reduce the heat if fish begins to brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and spoon the tomato sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com for more than eight years. She won the Duke Mayonnaise 100th Anniversary nationwide recipe contest for her Alabama White BBQ Sauce. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram and email@example.com.