Find a seafood dish for the fish-timid

For the fish-phobic For the novice For the budget-minded For the environmentally conscious

Special to The Washington PostJanuary 15, 2014 

Eating more seafood can be a key to a healthful diet. But it also can seem easier said than done. The hurdles? The people you cook for, and with, might not like fish. You might not know how to cook it. The cost can be daunting, and environmental questions can be confusing. Thankfully, each obstacle can be overcome. Start with mild, white-fleshed fish, such as tilapia, cod and sole. Avoid the oily choices with darker flesh, such as mackerel and bluefish. Dark-fleshed fish have more healthful omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re an acquired taste. Mild fish, meanwhile, can take on the flavor of whatever spices, seasonings and sauces you desire, and they absorb marinades in minutes. Overcooking can render a delicate fillet tough and unappealingly fishy, and it can happen in a flash because fish cooks so quickly — but that’s also one of its best qualities. Your job is to keep an eye on it. Quickly pan-fry thin fillets, browning them on each side until just opaque. Finish larger, thicker pieces in the oven or on the stove top in a vibrant broth or stew. Shop wisely, control portion sizes and extend the seafood with other ingredients. Mix a handful of shrimp with vegetables, pastas, grains, beans. If the fish is particularly pricey, remember: A mere pound can yield four servings. Shop for sales, get to know your fishmonger and don’t forget cold storage. Mild fish takes particularly well to freezing, so you can buy when the price is right, with no pressure to cook it right away. Turn to such sources as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program and the Blue Ocean Institute, both of which use color-coded rankings online to help you make smart choices. (The Natural Resources Defense Council, meanwhile, can help you identify fish that are low in mercury.)

Keep those strategies in mind, and you can make the most important change of all: no more excuses.

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