Reader Profile: No Way, No How, No Fish!

“I have a visceral reaction to seafood. Eww!” - Andrea Stillwell: Age: 45, postal clerk, Madison, Wis.

Cooking Light Reader: Andrea Stillwell
Photo: David Nevala

HER CHALLENGE

Andrea’s dislike for fish started at a young age. “I grew up near the ocean and saw what washes up. I didn’t want to eat anything out of there!” Add to that the fact that Andrea’s early culinary exposure to seafood consisted of tuna sandwiches, which she recalls as “stinky”; her mom’s tuna casserole (“the kind with wide egg noodles, peas, and breadcrumbs”); and an occasional salmon loaf. “I have every Cooking Light cookbook since 1996, but I just skip the recipes with fish,” says Andrea, who loves to cook and would welcome a way to overcome her dislike of the ocean’s bounty.

OUR ADVICE

For Andrea (and for other folks who aren’t fond of fish), this Healthy Habits challenge is about setting out on a culinary adventure.

  • Steer clear of “fishy” fish. Arctic char looks like salmon, but it’s less oily, so there’s less fishy taste. Flounder and catfish are also mild and readily available, as are rainbow trout and haddock. Tilapia is the boneless, skinless chicken breast of the sea—it has an almost neutral flavor. All of these, with varying levels of omega-3s, are great to experiment with in recipes.
  • Try shrimp. Good shrimp, that is. It’s sweet, succulent, and incredibly versatile: It can be cooked almost any way and served hot or cold. Also, it’s readily available peeled and deveined, which helps lessen the eww factor. Once you’ve mastered a few shrimp recipes, you’re ready to move on to scallops or mussels, two other seafood options with a naturally sweet flavor.
  • Fish up favorite foods. Our Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos use mild tilapia fillets instead of chopped or ground meat, and they pack a punch of flavor from the jalapeño sauce and spices. Fresh ginger emphasizes the great tuna flavor in our Tuna Sushi Burgers. Feel like a kid again one evening and treat yourself to Fancy Fish Sticks, which are made with mild-tasting halibut, in place of chicken fingers.
  • Pack seafood dishes with other flavors. Andrea loves curry, soups, and stews—all foods with robust flavors—and seafood versions will likely be enjoyable for her, too. Try our Thai-Coconut Bouillabaisse—this classic seafood stew tosses halibut, clams, mussels, and shrimp in a delicious broth of light coconut milk, red curry paste, and fresh herbs.
  • Cook outside. Grilling gives seafood great smoky flavor, and cooking outdoors means the fishy smell doesn’t get in your house. (Just be sure to thoroughly oil the grates first, or risk leaving delicate fish stuck to the grill.)
  • Be careful not to overcook. A difference of one minute can take shrimp and scallops from delicious to rubbery, so cook carefully. Check for doneness early and often to prevent overcooking, and use suggested cook times as just that—suggestions. Your 400° oven might cook fish faster than our Test Kitchen’s 400° oven. Residual heat will finish the cooking, and you won’t be left with shrimp that can bounce high off the plate.
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