When it comes to eating fish, fresh-caught is best, right? Well, not necessarily.
Amid the pandemic, as people limit their trips to the grocery store, many are keeping their pantries and cabinets well stocked with canned goods. For some, that can arsenal includes canned fish — not only standard tuna, but also salmon, herring and anchovies, to name a few. And why not? Canned goods last (basically) forever and are inexpensive compared to shopping the fresh catch at the seafood counter. There are health benefits too.
According to Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School (health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/ask_the_doctor_is_canned_fish_good_for_the_heart), “canned salmon, tuna, sardines, kippered herring and other types of fish are pretty much on a par with fresh fish” in providing heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are associated with and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, macular degeneration, dementia, treatment of inflammatory conditions, reduced risk of breast cancer and improved mental health. Some canned fish, notably salmon, also contain nutrients such as calcium (from the fish bones).
One concern about canned food (fish, in particular) is the sodium content. Too much can lead to high blood pressure and ultimately stroke and heart disease, among others. In addition to being aware of our sodium intake, simply rinsing the fish after removing it from the can helps too. Opting for canned fish packed in water, not oil, maintains health as well — Harvard Health Publishing notes that “since water and oil don’t mix, omega-3 fats remain locked in the fish. When fish is packed in oil, some of the omega-3 fats intermingle with the packing oil and are lost when the oil is drained.” Oil also carries with it a higher fat content.
Incorporating canned fish into your diet could seem difficult initially, especially for those (like me) who have always sworn by fresh salmon, herring and any other variety of fish. But trust me, it can be worth it. So, grab your can opener and get cooking!
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups thawed frozen cut green beans
1 can (16 ounces) salmon, drained and flaked
In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, salt, thyme and pepper. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Let boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in green beans and salmon. Turn mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Smoked Herring Fishcakes
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Pinch of paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 1/2 ounces/100 grams smoked herring, flaked
For breading and frying:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp butter
3 tsp olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, parsley, spring onion and paprika. Using a fine grater, zest about a quarter of the lemon and add to the potato mixture. In separate bowl, whisk eggs; add 1 Tbsp to the mixture. Mix well. Set the rest of the eggs aside. Using your hands, carefully flake the herring, removing any skin or bones. Fold the flaked fish through the potato mixture. Form 8 evenly sized balls with the fish mixture and place on a tray, pressing each down gently with your palm to create fishcake patties. Cover patties with plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (or overnight, if making ahead of time). Heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan. Dredge fishcakes in flour, then in whisked eggs, then in breadcrumbs until thoroughly coated. Place into the frying pan, flipping each fishcake halfway through (about 3 minutes per side), until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towel.