Lent runs for almost six weeks, so why not modernize those Friday fish fries with a delicious, heart-healthy approach to seafood cooking? Red Lobster Senior Executive Chef Michael LaDuke offers simple tips and recipes to replace fried fish with healthier, creative alternatives that will keep menus fresh on meatless Fridays.
First, consumers need to know how to purchase the freshest, tastiest fish in local stores. Then, with weeks of seafood consumption ahead, home cooks need to add some creativity to their recipe repertoires to change things up on those meatless Fridays.
Chef LaDuke’s tips for buying seafood at your local supermarket:
- The fish’s eyes should be clear. If the eyes are cloudy, the fish is beginning to get old.
- The interior gills should be bright red. If the gills are pink or brownish gray, that means the fish has either been mishandled or is getting old.
- There should be no offensive odor. Fresh fish does not smell fishy; it should smell moist and fresh, like a cut cucumber or melon. If there is an unusual odor, the fish should not be purchased.
- The flesh should be firm and elastic to the touch. It should spring back into place. If an indention remains after the fish is touched, the fish is beginning to get soft and is probably old.
- Fresh fillets or steak cuts should look moist and firm. A large degree of gapping, or the separation of flesh is a fillet, is a good indication that the fillet is getting old and should not be consumed.
- Check for bruises. Dark spots that appear of fillets indicate bruises, which are caused by mishandling.
Here are some simple, at-home recipes to spice up your seafood experience during Lent. The seafood recipes areÂ courtesy of Red Lobster.
Recipe: Maui Luau Shrimp & Salmon
4 each 5-6 oz. skinned salmon fillet
24 each 26-30 count peeled shrimp
8 each fresh pineapple half moons (super sweet variety)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sweet chili sauce (choose your favorite brand, but make sure it is sweet)
4 each bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 10-15 minutes)
1. Brush both sides of salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Slide 6 shrimp onto each soaked skewer, leaving room on either end and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Cut pineapple into slices and brush with olive oil.
4. On a medium heated grill, place the salmon flesh side down. Grill for 6-7 minutes per side (150 degrees)
5. Grill shrimp approximately 3â€“4 minutes per side (150 degrees); grill pineapple for 2-3 minutes per side or until there is good carmelization.
6. Brush all items generously with the sweet chili sauce.
7. Serve with your favorite rice and vegetable.
Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Tilapia in a Bag
Cooking fish in a parchment bag results in a moist, flaky fish. This dish is great not only because it’s light but because it is simple to put together.
- 8 Sheets of parchment paper
- Nonstick cooking spray fat-free
- 1 c. carrots, shredded or matchstick cut
- 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
- 8 Tbsp Sun-dried tomato vinaigrette salad dressing, fat-free
- All purpose salt-free seasoning, to taste
- 4 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 ea 8-10 oz pieces of tilapia, skin off*
Layering the bag:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray each sheet of parchment paper lightly with non-stick cooking spray on top side only.
3. Place ¼ spinach in the center of each of 4 of the parchment paper pieces; add ¼ of the carrots and ¼ of the red pepper slices to each stack.
4. Top each spinach and vVegetable stack with 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.
5. Place one piece of tilapia on top of the spinach and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with salt free seasoning and top with 1 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes and 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato Vinaigrette.
Sealing the bag:
1. Place one sheet of the parchment, sprayed side down on top of each piece of the tilapia.
2. Crimp the two sheets of parchment paper like a piecrust until the bottom and the top are completely sealed.
1.Â Place the bags of tilapia onto a cookie sheet and cook in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 140-150 degrees.
2. Place the bag onto a plate and slice the parchment open at the table to enjoy.
Other fresh fish species that work well with this dish includes snapper, grouper, salmon, halibut, red rockfish and wahoo.