Last week in my nutrition class we had a lecture on Fat. Yep, we have whole weeks of class dedicated to one nutrient. While we did talk about the “bad” kinds of fat–hydrogenated oils, trans fats, etc, what I found the most interesting was about the “good” fats. We always hear obscure things about how great omega 3’s and omega 6’s are…but did you know that while most of us get enough omega 6 (lenoleic acid) from our diets, most people don’t get enough omega 3’s (lenolinic acid)? The absolute best source of omega 3 fatty acids (more details on the health benefits to come) is fish. Since I haven’t had a ton of fish lately (read: poverty) I decided this weekend I should get my fill.
Cooking fish “en papillote” (fancy for, in parchment paper) is a great method because it’s super easy and you can cook with very little added fats by just letting the fish steam it’s it’s little pouch-home.
Start by folding a large parchment rectangle in half. Open it up and put some veggies in the center. Since mine was asian style, I used some bok choy, red pepper, shitake mushroom, and snap peas (but you can really use any mixture you like). You drizzle that with a tasty mixture of soy, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, orange juice/zest, and red pepper flakes.
Then you place your wild (I repeat…wild, not farmed) salmon filet on top of the veggies and drizzle with more of the marinade. Fold the top of the parchment over and roll the 3 open sides inward until the pouch stays closed (takes a little finesse). Pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes and…
You have a perfect meal in a pouch. If you’re thinking my salmon looks over cooked, you’re right. I got a little distracted cleaning my room and let the salmon go for about 12 minutes which was too much. But, the flavors were still delicious, fresh, and light, and despite overcooking the salmon a bit, this was an amazing meal. On the side I served some black “forbidden” rice spiked with sesame oil, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Nutritional highlights: So back to Omega 3’s. EPA and DHA are the omega 3’s abundantly found in fish. They appear to: lower blood pressure, prevent clot formation, protect against irregular heartbeats, reduce inflammation associated with heart disease, and lower blood triglycerides. So basically, we need to eat more fish, STAT. Fish oil supplements are NOT the same. They don’t have the same nutrients as fish, may contain high levels of mercury and other toxins, can interfere with blood clotting, plus, they’re expensive and nasty tasting. You should only take them if your doctor has specifically recommended them to you. Ok, stepping off my soapbox now. This recipe in particularly is great for you because there is very little added fat, and lots of healthy vegetables. Instead of all the oil involved in sauteeing fish and veggies, this process steams the fish and veggies so they’re perfectly cooked and moist.
Now for the black rice. This was my first time trying it, and it has a great nutty flavor. Not only does it have a lot of fiber, I also read that black rice has more antioxidants than the same quantity of blueberries, but with less sugar. That’s kind of awesome. It’s known as forbidden rice because in ancient china only the royalty was allowed to eat it. So not only is it crazy good for you, it also makes you feel important and powerful when you eat it.
Asian Salmon in Parchment
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- 2 wild salmon filets (about 6 oz each)
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- juice and zest from half of an orange
- 1 teaspoon of peeled, minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Vegetables: red pepper, baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, shitake mushrooms (other options: broccoli, carrots, peapods, etc)
- Chopped scallions for garnish
Directions: Preheat the oven to 425. Mix ingredients 2-8. Take a large piece of parchment paper…about 16 inches long. Fold it lengthwise. Open up the parchment and put the vegetables in the center of one of the halves. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of your sauce. Top with your salmon filet and drizzle with another tablespoon of the sauce. Fold over the top of the parchment and seal the open 3 edges by rolling free edges together inward. Repeat for your second piece of fish.
Pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Cut a lengthwise slit in the pouch and pull back the sides (being careful of the steam trapped inside), top with the scallions, and enjoy your one pouch meal!!
Sesame-Cilantro Forbidden Rice
Ingredients (for 4-5 servings, I halved it)
- 1 cup black/forbidden rice
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- sesame seeds and more cilantro for garnish
Directions: Cook the rice according to the directions (takes about 30 minutes). Mix in sesame oil and cilantro. Top with more cilantro and sesame seeds and enjoy.