Market basket: Looking for leaner dishes? Add fish

Market basket: Looking for leaner dishes? Add fish

Tammy Algood  |  Special to The Tennessean

After weeks of socializing and party food indulgences, many make the resolution to lighten things up a bit on the dinner plate. That may include adding more salads, having fewer desserts or even eliminating certain items from your menu altogether. One of the ways I always begin the new year is by utilizing more fish.

All of the numerous choices at the supermarket allow me to avoid boredom and are simple to prepare. Plus it gives me the opportunity to experiment with a large variety of seasoning combinations while still being nutritious.

Fish types are classified as either fat or lean. As a general rule, the ones labeled as fat have a darker flesh. That’s because the oil content is found throughout the flesh with tuna and salmon being good examples. This also gives it more flavor than those that fall in the lean category.

I gravitate toward the leaner fish varieties and have no trouble finding plenty that will routinely be on sale. My favorites are tilapia, grouper, flounder, halibut, snapper, mahimahi, sole and orange roughy.   

Most of the filets I purchase are frozen and only need to be thawed for a day in the refrigerator. Those that are sold thawed were more than likely flash frozen (sometimes called blast frozen) to maintain the quality during shipping. That’s fine, but your window to use it is short, and it shouldn’t be refrozen.

Any fish that has been frozen should be drained and blotted dry with paper towels before preparing. Cooked leftovers are always eaten the following day at my house. But honestly, there are rarely leftovers because I can thaw only the amount needed.

As far as cooking, I prefer to grill or broil it, but it can also be poached, baked, microwaved or even steamed. Frying negates the healthy purpose of the purchase.  

You asked for it

Shellie Ferguson of Shreveport asks for tips on poaching fish. “I think I cook it too long because it always falls apart!” she writes.


First of all make sure you select a firm-fleshed fish. Secondly, make sure the liquid you select for poaching is simmering before the fish is added to the skillet. Bring it back to barely a simmer and poach for no more than 10 minutes per inch of thickness. You will turn it halfway through.

Tammy Algood is the author of five cookbooks and can be seen on “Volunteer Gardener” on PBS stations in Tennessee. Follow her at