Conquering the Fear of Cooking Fish

April 20, 2015 — Fear of fish can afflict even the most confident cook.

Fewer and fewer fish have crossed my stove in recent years. This is partly out of guilt, because wild species are so often out of season or endangered, and farmed fish are so often unappealing. It is partly because in my apartment, to cook fish for dinner is to live with its smell for a day and a half. And it is partly because I ate so much fancy fish in restaurants to make up for my failings as a home cook that I had forgotten how delicious a simple buttery pan-fried fillet can be.

The modern fashion in restaurants is to serve fillets swimming in a broth, juice or nage (as if returning to water is somehow natural for cooked fish). Other chefs like oil-poaching, which involves a slow simmer in gallons of top-quality oil; expensive and impractical for Tuesday-night dinner at home.

And others recommend that home cooks start with en papillote: folding up individual fillets in parchment paper with butter and herbs, which steams the fish and produces a kind of thin broth. This is not a thrilling outcome.

For weeknight home cooking, I wanted a way to cook a fish fillet the way I cook all my favorite proteins (steaks, shrimp, lamb chops): quickly, simply and over high-enough heat to bring on the browning that makes food crisp, appetizing and fragrant. (Food science nerds call them Maillard reactions.) But a simple sear in oil isn’t the answer for fish: overcooked and flavorless fillets are the result.

Read the full story and watch the video from The New York Times

Savoring sea scallops year-round

April 8, 2015 — “A pint’s a pound the world around” is an old-time expression my grandmother used when portioning up gallons of food. With the Maine scalloping season coming to a close, I am remembering this as we are freezing packages of the delicious bivalve to enjoy for the remainder of the year.

Scallops freeze quite nicely if the oxygen has been removed and the package heat-sealed. Yes, you really need a machine. This is a place where zipper-type bags or plastic freezer containers don’t do the trick. We’ve “discovered” packages of scallops buried in the freezer over two years that were still plump and flavorful.

We usually freeze two gallons, or 16 pounds, and the whole process from start to finish takes about two hours. I start by gently rinsing the scallops and removing the hard, rubbery muscle. You can discard the muscle, or I freeze it to later use in a preparing a fish stock.

Divide the scallops into meal sizes, keeping in mind that an average serving size is 4 ounces, or about four scallops. We divide our scallops into packages of 4, 8 or 16. A meal for two is a package of eight. A package of 16 feeds four, or two, with encores (leftovers) for a second meal. My mother, who lives alone, appreciates the smaller, 4-ounce package size.

Read the full story at the Ellsworth American

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Eats About 821 Pounds Of Cod Per Year

April 7, 2015 — Like many people on the Internet, those of us at the FiveThirtyEight office have been passing around a piece from Mallory Ortberg at The Toast that details the author’s shock at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s daily food plan, which was chronicled in Muscle and Fitness.

It’s a remarkable eating plan. The 42-year old actor consumes pounds of animal protein to maintain his immense bulk — his seven daily meals include a total of 2.3 pounds of cod and 12 eggs, plus steak and chicken — but he also manages to eat two potatoes, some vegetables, rice, and so on.

Johnson eats roughly 10 pounds of food every day. Here’s the nutritional breakdown of his daily diet according to Wolfram Alpha:

Read the full story from FiveThirtyEight

Gulf Seafood Institute Comments on New FDA Seafood Guides for Pregnant Women

April 2, 2015 — The FDA and the EPA are revising their joint fish consumption Advice and Questions & Answers to encourage pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children to eat more fish and to eat a variety of fish from choices that are lower in mercury.

Every year since 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available to the public a compendium of information on locally issued fish advisories and safe eating guidelines. This information is provided to EPA by states, U.S. territories, Indian tribes, and local governments who issue fish consumption advisories and safe eating guidelines to inform people about the recommended level of consumption for fish caught in local waters.

The FDA and the EPA are revising their joint fish consumption Advice and Questions & Answers to encourage pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children to eat more fish and to eat a variety of fish from choices that are lower in mercury.

Read the full release from the Gulf Seafood Institute


Don’t Give Up On Fish Oil Supplements Just Yet

April 1, 2015 — According to the experts, you shouldn’t throw out your fish oil supplements just yet.

“Fish Oil Claims Not Supported By Research”—that was the surprising headline of a recent New York Times article. The article went on to explain that, while fish oil is the third most widely used dietary supplement in the U.S., the majority of clinical trials involving fish oil haven’t found evidence that it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Times cited several studies that found no link between fish oil consumption and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, but they also noted that recent research of fish oil and cardiovascular health was conducted on patients who had a history of heart disease or strong risk factors for developing it — though that important nuance is buried deep beneath a very broad headline. 

Fish oil has been a popular supplement for years, largely due to its two omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Those omega-3s have been linked to a large range of health benefits, from a lowered risk of heart disease to increased fetal brain development.

So what’s the real story?

Read the full story from Yahoo News


Oceana Study Uncovers Massive Crab Cake Fraud in D.C. Area

April 1, 2015 — Three years ago, I did a little experiment to find out how often restaurants that advertise "Maryland crab cakes" on their menus really serve Maryland crab.

At P.J. Clarke's, I asked a server about the origin of its "Maryland crab cake," and he assured me it was "all local." But when I later asked the then-chef the same question, he told me the bulk of the seafood actually came from Indonesia and the restaurant sometimes gets “a few pounds” of Maryland crab and blends it in.

Busboys and Poets likewise advertised "Maryland crab cakes" at the time. (It no longer does.) "It says it’s from Maryland, but it’s from China,” the server told me when I inquired about its origin. The restaurant's Director of Operations, however, later countered that it actually came from Venezuela.

Needless to say, it's hard to know where your crab is really coming from, no matter how it's labeled.

Oceana has only confirmed this with a new study released today that found 38 percent of Chesapeake Bay crab cakes tested in this region were mislabeled. The ocean conservation and advocacy organization was inspired by my story on "Maryland Crab Fakes" and decided to repeat the investigation on a much larger scale with the help of actual DNA testing. "You did a whole mislabeling story without submitting one test and I thought, 'That's brilliant,'" says Oceana senior scientist Kimberly Warner, the report's author.

Read the full story from Washington City Paper

Not enough gefilte fish for Passover?

March 27, 2015 — Why is this Passover different than other Passovers?

Because you may not have any gefilte fish at your table on Passover, which starts at sundown on April 3.

February's record cold temperatures are to blame for the shortage of fish ingredients, reported Erica Marcus, a food writer at Newsday, the Long Island, New York, newspaper.

"The traditional Passover appetizer is made from ground whitefish, carp and yellow pike," Marcus wrote. "All three are freshwater fish from the Upper Midwest, and all three are in short supply this spring because the Great Lakes are still covered with ice."

While some restaurants reported having no supply issues, it may be a different story for the home cook.

There's great debate within the Jewish community about the flavor of the classic gefilte fish dish, which isn't always the tastiest food at the table.

"I've never seen what all the fuss is about," Marcus told CNN. "It's about as challenging a taste as tuna fish salad."

Read the full story at CNN

Aquaculture and Fisheries Technologies for Food and Health Educators, Seafood Professionals, and Communicators

March 12, 2015 — The following was released by Delaware Sea Grant:

Workshop goals: Workshop attendees receiving seafood quality and safety training will increase their technical knowledge and understanding of important global, national, regional and local issues and developments related to seafood safety and human health.

Who should attend: Food technologists, dieticians, nutritionists, extension agents (home economics, fisheries, aquaculture, seafood technology, food safety, etc.) and seafood industry professionals (seafood buyers, distributors, retail personnel, etc.) are the primary audience for this technical training program. Because of tour limitations and seafood handling and preparation logistics, registration will be limited to 35 attendees.

What you will learn: The workshop will provide information on current issues, developments and trends for fishery and aquaculture industries and products. Program content covers technical aspects of seafood health and safety from water to table. Seafood products from wild caught and aquaculture sources will be discussed from the following perspectives: nutrition, benefits and risks, food safety, quality and handling, harvest and production methods, processing, HACCP, sourcing, distribution and marketing. In addition to national issues, the program will also address topics of regional and local interest. Formats will include classroom lectures/seminars, demonstrations and local tours of facilities that support the seafood industry.

Where: Hotel Indigo New Orleans Garden District, 2203 St Charles Avenue, New Orleans Louisiana 70130
Registration fee: $150 includes partial meals (3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, session breaks, welcome reception and seafood demonstration/dinner), tour transportation, and resource materials. Online registration is available at

Trainers: Doris Hicks and John Ewart, University of Delaware; Christina DeWitt and Michael Morrissey, Oregon State University; and Rusty Gaude, Louisiana State University.

Lodging: The Hotel Indigo has rooms available at a special workshop rate from 4/20-24, 2015 (Use Group Code: AFT) for $139.00 per night (single or double occupancy) Tax: 14.75% per night and 1.00 USD. This special rate expires on March 20, 2015 and afterwards regular room rates will apply. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival opens on April 24th and hotel rooms are in high demand. Please book with the Indigo Hotel directly online or call 1-877-846-3446 for reservations.
For additional information about the 2015 Gulf Coast workshop and program, contact Doris Hicks, Seafood Technology Specialist, University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service. Phone: (302) 645-4297; Fax: (302) 645-4213; E-Mail:, or visit the workshop Website at



Plant-based diet, with fish, may lower risk of colorectal cancer

March 9, 2015 — A plant-based diet may lower the risk of colorectal cancers, particularly if it includes seafood and fish, a large U.S. study finds.

Previous research suggests that vegetarians have a reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. The current study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers fresh insight into the health benefits of different types of plant-based diets.

"We were surprised to find that pescovegetarians had a significantly lower risk of colorectal cancers than people on other vegetarian diets," said lead study author Dr. Michael Orlich, an assistant professor in medicine and public health at Loma Linda University in California.

Orlich and colleagues used dietary questionnaires, medical records, and cancer registries to examine the link between eating habits and cancer prevalence in a nationwide sample of 77,659 Seventh-Day Adventists, a religion that encourages a healthy lifestyle and abstinence from smoking and drinking.

After an average follow-up of 7.3 years, there were 380 cases of colon cancer and 110 cases of rectal cancer. Overall, compared to regular meat eaters, the vegetarians were 22% less likely to have colorectal malignancies, the study found.

Read the full story at the New York Daily News

Great seafood dishes don’t have to be cooked in a restaurant

March 4, 2015 — It’s a pretty constant refrain from those who study our diet: Eat more seafood, it’s good for you.

And for those who observe Lent, this is the time when meals based on seafood are de rigueur.

Seafood is a favorite restaurant dish, but not that many of us cook seafood at home.

Vicky Murphy of Inland Seafood says the industry has found that almost three-fourths of all seafood is eaten outside the home. “People shy away from cooking seafood at home because they overthink it,” she says.

“They’re concerned about choosing seafood, and because they’re used to cooking beef, pork and poultry, they overcook what they bring home. Seafood actually takes a fraction of the cooking time of those meats and can be easily cooked at home.”

Murphy has been creating and demonstrating seafood recipes for many years. One of her favorite “recipes” for the novice seafood cook who wants an impressive dinner party entree is to start with a side of salmon placed skin side down on large piece of foil on a baking sheet.

Read the full story from
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution