Spring has come and with her the desire to consume fresh and light food such as a nice fish dish. Unfortunately, all this enthusiasm is often held back by a lack of knowledge of the raw material.

The suggestions of some experts can certainly help us to know, choose and cook fish with awareness:

Which fish to choose?

The best fish is the one that lives little and what is fished respecting the marine environment.

The quality of fishery products today is threatened by contamination of the marine environment: some elements can accumulate in fish. When a substance enters the food chain, it has a low concentration, but at each link in the chain the concentration increases. Fish that feed on other fish also assimilate their contaminants, which “are no longer just heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium or manganese – explains the biologist -, but also synthetic substances, even more dangerous. For example, dioxins, dioxin-like substances, flame retardants, PCBs. It is more than 500 substances ».

Swordfish and tuna, among the most common fish on the table, are the ones most at risk, also due to the presence of plastic micro-fragments in the muscle fibers of the fish. It is better in breeding because water and feed are monitored, and the animals are smaller. The weak point, on this side, are rather the antiparasitic drugs that allow, precisely eliminating the parasites, to have intensive productions. In short, nobody is perfect, but the controls in particular in Italy are many. Having established the right amount to eat, you can think about how to cook this fish.

The only solution is to choose short-lived fish. For three reasons.

  • The first: «By living a little, one contaminates less», explains the biologist. Which recommends giving preference to species that are found in abundance in Italian seas, such as: red mullet, which live only a year, hake, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, gurnard, bonito, bonito.
  • Short life cycle fish is more sustainable. «When it is fished, it has reproduced at least once: in this way we do not influence the life cycle of the species. We need to protect the ecosystem, or the fish will disappear.» 
  • The third reason is the economic one: «These fish also have the most competitive prices».

It is better to choose molluscs, such as lupines or mussels: «They do not consume energy in the system and they do well. The Italians are still terrified of the cholera tragedy, but it must be remembered that the molluscs that caused it were caught in the wastewater of a hospital ». On the other hand, those purchased in their nets are absolutely safe, with the valves closed and the label that accurately indicates the origin and the date of fishing “.

Fresh and local fish is not always the safest, just take a look at any fish stand to confirm it: in our country fresh fish from 40 countries is landed every day, and many of them overlook the Pacific or Atlantic. In this case, the label meets us, which must contain:

  1. Trade name of the species: e.g. “Sea bream”, while the scientific name in the retail trade is not mandatory on the label but can be displayed in a single sign;
  2. Production method: “caught”, “caught in fresh water”, “bred”;
  3. Catch area: the sea in which it was caught, the famous FAO catch areas (eg “Area 47: Atlantic, Southeast”, or the State of origin if it is farmed fish must be indicated in an understandable way for the consumer) ;
  4. Physical state: thawed, thawed;
  5. Presence of additives: for example “contains sulphites” for crustaceans legally added with sulphites.

Even frozen fish, if “quality”, is good for health and maintains its qualities. Better be wary of products being sold at too low a price, though. «Today, large-scale distribution follows very strict rules and maintains the cold chain well: in addition to the trusted fishmonger, who in any case must always display the labels that provide information on the supply chain, you can also buy fish in the supermarket. And eat it also every day ».

Source: biologist Silvio Greco and monthly “La Cucina Italiana”

Doubts at the fish counter?

To help consumers make purchases safer, Federcoopesca – Confcooperative has developed an app “What fish are they?” which avoids the risk of food fraud by giving information on fish products. You can download it for free on the Play Store and App Store. the app gives indications on seasonality, scientific and commercial denomination, minimum marketable size, fishing methods, morphological characteristics and nutritional qualities. So that consumers, especially the less experienced ones, do not run the risk of food fraud such as those of «look-alike fish» by promoting informed purchases.

Eataly fish calendar

  • Summer:. cuttlefish, anchovy, starfish, needlefish, bonito, mackerel, boga, albacore tuna, sardine, soace, mackerel, dolphinfish, glance, tracina, barracuda, chestnut fish, horse mackerel, dormouse, mostella, squid, sarago, breed.
  • Autumn: cuttlefish, anchovy, soace, squid, potassium, mackerel, glance, shoulder bag, sarago, mackerel mare, zerro, tuna alletterato, zanchetta, argentina, dolphinfish, dormouse, boga, bonito, star leech, bonito.
  • Winter: tuna allored, soace, mackerel, potassium, dormouse, bream, sardine, rabbit, squid, anchovy, zerro, argentina, zanchetta.
  • Spring: needlefish, soace, dormouse, star husk, anchovy, albacore tuna, look, boga, squid, horse mackerel, cuttlefish, mackerel, mackerel mare.

Is eating more fish good for your health?

Nutritionists and dieticians, but also presenters and chef-stars, recommend consuming more fish for the omega-3 content and for its fine meats. But we all know that the stocks of most of the fish we routinely consume are now collapsing. Maybe then we should rethink our fish consumption to make the Mediterranean diet more sustainable. How? Taking advantage of alternative sources of omega-3 (such as seeds for example), seasonal and short-lived fish, little known and less expensive, for which the price certainly does not correspond to the nutritional value. And then there are the “non-fish”, the alternatives that the sea offers us to enhance pleasure and keep us healthy, without affecting the aquatic ecosystems: jellyfish and algae, molluscs and crustaceans. Why not?

Source: monthly “La cucina Italiana”

The best sushi with the freshest fish

How many times have we read it in the winking restaurant advertisements? With raw, however, do not joke and therefore enjoy sushi, sashimi, tartare, carpaccio and marinade, but keep in mind some small tricks. If we consume it in a restaurant, the fish must be blasted as required by law, that is, frozen in a blast chiller that quickly brings it to a temperature of -18 degrees. If we prepare it at home we must keep it for at least 96 hours in a domestic freezer marked with three or more stars. The risk is to ingest the infamous anisakis, a particularly persistent parasite that afflicts, among other species, anchovies and sardines, herring, sea bass and cod, monkfish and squid. In humans it causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines and allergic reactions in some cases, even serious ones.

Source: monthly “La cucina Italiana”

How to cook fish

Chef Michel Louis-Marie Richard, Citronelle (Washington DC) helps us with perfect advice even for those who are beginners in the kitchen:

“Think and cook fish with white meat (sea bream sole, breed, red snapper, etc.) with recipes that are suitable for white meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit). Salmon is like a pig, and tuna like beef, and both combine better with stronger flavors. “

This is one of my favorite fish recipes:

Coconut fish

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 150 g dried coconut flakes*
  • 500 g of white-fleshed fish fillets
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 spoonful of lemon juice
  • 1 star anise or 1/2 teaspoon of green anise
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or spicy chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 g of leeks

How to prepare coconut fish

Spread the dried coconut on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and toast it in the oven at 150 ° C for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally(continually check it not to burn it).

Cut the fish fillets into small pieces.

Wash the leeks very well and cut them into slices.

To cook the fish, boil water with lemon juice in a saucepan, immerse the hake in boiling water, turn off the heat and let the fish cook in the broth for about 10 minutes (if cut into very small dimensions, or for 25 minutes if you have to cook a whole fillet).

Toast the spices (anise, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, chilli pepper) in a medium heat pan for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a mixer (or a mortar) and mince them.

Heat the oil in a pan, brown the leeks for 10 minutes on high heat stirring, add the toasted coconut and continue cooking over low heat for another 10 minutes.

Serve the fish and leeks with cereals in beans to create a tasty single dish.


* Coconut flakes have a sweet taste but if toasted it is enriched with aromatic notes reminiscent of cream or almonds … to try in savory recipes …

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