3 Super Fishy Sources of Omega-3sBy Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.comYou probably already know that salmon and other fatty fish are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, those fats that boost brain and heart health while helping lower bad cholesterol.
Did you know that there are several other super sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and they're easy to prepare! All you need to do is open the can and start cooking. What are these fish? Anchovies, sardines, and mackerel. Don't wrinkly your nose! Keep reading to find out how to prep these fishy little fish and reap their health benefits.
So why are these fish not as popular as the "chicken of the sea"? The nose knows. People are often put off with their strong fishy smell and the soft bones (a good source of calcium!).
Use their strong flavor to your advantage--a little goes a long way. Use them as a way to infuse a dish with the essence of the ocean. Italians use anchovies in pasta sauces and on pizzas; the Koreans add mackerel to hearty soups and stews; and the Spanish serve sardines as tapas. All use the fish in moderation and use their unique flavor to the dish's advantage. Cooking the fish also mellows its flavor a bit.
Of the three, these are my favorite. You can purchase anchovies as filets in a can or as a paste.
If you're new to anchovies, choose the paste, which comes in a tube. Just squeeze some into a dish, and that's it. The paste will store in the fridge with no mess.
I love to use the salty, umami-rich paste in Caesar salad dressing, marinades for beef, and soups.
The filets are amazing on a pizza with grilled asparagus, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.
If you haven't tried the white anchovies, make sure you add them to your new list. Common in Spanish tapas cuisine, they are milder and sweeter--ideal for marinating in a vinaigrette or adding to a salad.
NOTE: When using the canned variety, run your fingers over the filets to look for any bones. Don't worry if you miss one or two, the bones are so soft you can actually chew them, unlike the large pin bones found in salmon.
If you're worried about sodium intake, rinse anchovies before using, and remember that you likely won't need any additional salt if you include anchovies in a dish.
Ease into anchovies with my Baked Anchovy and Grape Crostini. The sweet grapes and creamy cheese balance out the anchovies.
Sardines are named after the place where they're canned, the Italian island of Sardinia. They're actually part of the herring family and can be used interchangeable. They're soft-boned so you can eat the bones--try mashing up a tin of sardines into your usual tuna salad recipe!
Sardines are usually packed in olive or soybean oil, so rinse off the excess oil and pat dry before eating. When choosing origin select the Pacific caught.
Mackerel is the biggest and darkest of the three fishy fish. It's also the least "fishy" in taste with leaner, lighter tasting meat. The Spanish region choice along with the Atlantic and King varieties are your best bet for sustainable species. Just like with sardines, rinse away the excess oil if you buy them canned. Citrus and flavored vinegars love to mingle with mackerel. Try a tossed salad with flaked mackerel, orange zest and segments and toss with a red wine vinaigrette.
I hope that you'll give these three fishy fish a try--not only will you enjoy the taste, but you'll get a boost of Omega-3s as well!
How do you prefer to eat these fish?
More from SparkPeople:
- How to Choose, Prep, and Cook Shellfish
- Chef Meg's Not-Fried Shrimp with Japanese Cocktail Sauce
- Chef Meg's Easy Steamed Fish Packets
SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.