We have just come back from a great family holiday to Portugal. We stayed in the Algarve in the region of Albufeira. It was fun hiring bikes, swimming and enjoying time on the beautiful beaches there. One of the great things we enjoy on holiday is having the chance to eat out at a few nice restaurants. There were certainly plenty in the resort and it was fun having the opportunity to choose somewhere different to eat as a family each day. We sampled some great fish dishes - swordfish on a roof tile, a mixed fish grill and a prawn and monkfish kebab. The Portugese enjoy their fish. We saw fishermen bringing back their catch of the day. Most of it is delivered straight into the markets and restaurants. It doesn't get much fresher than that! You will find tuna, salmon, sardines, monkfish, swordfish and sea bass all very reasonably priced. It is simply cooked (usually grilled) and served with potatoes or rice and a salad.
Government guidelines recommend we should be eating two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (such as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines). I am reading an interesting book at the moment about Child Nutrition. One of the chapters is about the importance of the essential fats- Omega 3 and Omega 6. They are essential because they cannot be made by the body. The Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of fish and seafood means that it contains a good intake of the omega 3 fish oils. These are necessary for a healthy heart, preventing inflammation and brain function. Did you know the dry mass of your brain is 60% fat? But it needs the right sort of fat to function properly- the Omega 3 fats. They cannot be made by the body and so you need to eat them on a regular basis to ensure that you are getting your intake of these essential fatty acids. Deficiency can lead to fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings and depression and poor circulation.
You will find several recipes on previous posts which use oily fish (including mackerel risotto, polenta crusted salmon and mackerel pate.) Another favourite recipe of mine which is very quick and easy to cook is Seafood Paella. This is a traditional Spanish dish which uses mixed seafood such as prawns, mussels and squid. I like to use the prepared packs of mixed seafood that has already been cooked and just needs adding at the end to heat through. Whilst this recipe is not as high in Omega 3 as a recipe containing oily fish it is still a moderately good source. I like to use peppers and frozen peas or beans but you can vary the veg content according to what you have. Paella is traditionally made using paella or long grain rice but I use Basmati rice in this recipe and this works just as well. Serve with lemon wedges and a mixed salad.
1 small onion peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
1 red, orange or yellow pepper deseeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
3 fresh tomatoes or 200g tin of chopped tomatoes
150g basmati rice
1 pint of fish or vegetable stock
100g frozen peas or beans
200g pack of cooked mixed seafood (and some fresh mussels if available)
Lemon wedges and a mixed salad to serve
Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large shallow pan.
Add the onion and pepper and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until softened
Add the turmeric, garlic and tomatoes and cook for another minute
Stir in the rice
Pour in the stock, then bring to the boil, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until most of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is almost cooked. Stirring a few times will ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan
Add the frozen peas (or beans) and seafood and cook for a further five minutes
Season to taste with ground black pepper
Serve with lemon wedges and salad