According to the SeaPak Shrimp Company, the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday (today) and Easter is the biggest seafood season of the year. For those who don’t know, this 40-day period is called Lent. Many Christians choose to give up an indulgence or take on a new civic responsibility during Lent, and meat is a popular item to give up temporarily. Catholics who do not give up meat are still supposed to avoid eating it today and every Friday during Lent.
But fish is not forbidden, so all manners of seafood can be consumed with wild abandon. Fish, in particular, is a very healthy food, but if you are like me, you often suffer from sticker shock when you see the price of fresh fish at your local grocer or fish market. How is a family on a budget supposed to incorporate healthy fish into its meal plan without breaking the bank?
Some families choose to limit fish purchases to once a week. Others turn to frozen or canned fish to meet their needs, but those products can require a little more imagination in the kitchen. Nobody wants tuna salad or tuna casserole for dinner twice a week (except maybe my cats).
My grandmother used to make salmon cakes from canned salmon quite often, and they were a favorite of my grandfather’s. I tend to keep a bag of frozen tilapia fillets in my freezer, because they thaw in a flash and can be broiled or sauteed pretty quickly, too.
For my column next week, I’m seeking other ideas. How do you incorporate fish into your diet? Do you find the expense to be a hindrance? Do kids these days still turn up their noses at fish? If you have a tasty recipe to dress up canned or frozen fish, I would love to hear about it.
Meanwhile, I’ll pass along a recipe for seared salmon with blackberry sauce.
Seared Salmon with Blackberry Sauce
For the fish:
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 lbs. salmon, cut into 4 equal fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 oz. blackberries (fresh is best)
2 tsp. cornstarch
1. Combine all ingredients for the sauce, except cornstarch, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the berries are so soft that they fall apart with a gentle prodding with a fork and the mixture is reduced by about half, about 30 minutes.
2. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the top of a large bowl. Pour the berry mixture into the sieve and use a spoon to strain the sauce through the sieve, firmly pressing and stirring the solids until as much liquid as possible has been extracted. Discard the solids and transfer the sauce back into the saucepan. Pour cornstarch into a small bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of the strained sauce. Stir until smooth, then add back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; keep warm.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season fish fillets generously with salt and pepper. Cook on both sides until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
4. Serve immediately with a couple spoonfuls of the blackberry sauce.