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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There are so many fish in the seven seas, and a lot of them end up on my plate

A cross-section of a whole wild-caught whiting, seasoned and pan fried in olive oil, needs only a shower of fresh lemon juice. The meaty whitefish flakes beautifully when you break it apart with a fork.
At H Mart in Little Ferry on Sunday, I bought a 6.2-pound whiting for $3.99 a pound, and asked the fish-counter worker to clean the fish and remove the head. With a central bone, whiting is one of the easiest fish to eat whole.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

An abundance of fresh wild-caught seafood -- from luxurious lobster to the humble whiting -- made it easy for me to give up meat and poultry more than six years ago.

If you shop at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro or at H Mart and other Korean supermarkets, you can usually find fresh whole fish and fillets for less per pound than grass-fed beef.

Two other pluses: 

Fish takes less time to cook than beef, pork or poultry, and it's good for your heart. 

Seafood is the main act in my diet of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter.


Unusually large red snappers were $6.99 a pound at H Mart, 260 Bergen Turnpike, Little Ferry.

The Jamaican national dish -- Ackee and Salt Fish -- is great for breakfast with dumplings made from sweet plantains. There's nothing like the interplay of salted cod fish, the bland fruit called ackee, and hot and sweet peppers. I used Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce to add another dimension. 
A dinner of leftovers doesn't get better than this.

At BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee on Saturday,  I tried but couldn't finish a lunch combo special of whole crisp-skinned croaker with organic soft-tofu soup ($17.50), above and below. The combo also is available with mackerel. My wife had half of my fish along with her Soft Tofu Soup with Pork, ordering it Spicy ($11.99 at lunch with rice, side dishes and a fresh egg).

I paid $1 extra for oysters in my soft-tofu soup, which is bubbling furiously when it comes to the table, allowing you to poach one of the fresh eggs provided.

Every meal at BCD Tofu House, 1640 Schlosser St. in Fort Lee, includes a small fried yellow croaker and six other free side dishes, plus seconds.

When you order soft-tofu soup, you also get a second stone bowl of steamed rice. BCD Tofu House, which serves organic tofu and has an extensive menu, is far superior to the soft-tofu restaurants in Palisades Park, including our former go-to place, So Gong Dong, now part of the SGD Dubu chain.

An  egg-white omelet is easy to prepare for breakfast, above and below. This one uses cage-free liquid egg whites and wild Alaskan smoked sockeye salmon, both from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, and 365 Everyday Value Roasted Salsa Verde from Whole Foods Market in Paramus.
Crushed red Aleppo pepper, from Fattal's, 975 Main St. in Paterson, lends a mildly spicy accent to egg and fish dishes.
About a week ago, my wife brought home just under 2 pounds of fresh wild Atlantic cod fillets from Iceland ($7.99 a pound at Costco Wholesale). I prepared a fish-and-vegetable medley that was ready to eat after 15 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven.
I cut the two long fillets into about a dozen serving pieces, coated them in Asian Indian and other spices, and placed them over a bed of organic spinach in a large rectangular pan, adding organic diced tomatoes, chopped pitted olives and fresh lemon juice. Pesto was added to the fish after the pan was taken out of the oven.
A pound of pre-washed Organic Baby Spinach was $4.79 at Costco.
I keep a tub of Asian Indian and other spices in the refrigerator for coating fish, chicken, pork and beef.
Kirkland Signature Bail Pesto from Costco.
A week ago, me and my wife enjoyed the Twin Lobster Special at Meson Madrid, a Spanish restaurant at 343 Bergen Boulevard in Palisades Park. For $19.95, you get two lobsters, broiled or steamed, soup or salad, rice and house-made potato chips. The lobster deal is served at dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
As if to drive home the message that fresh fish is best, a frozen mahi-mahi fillet from Costco Wholesale was tough and chewy after I cooked it with garlic, fresh tomato and sweet pepper in an aluminum pouch.
This afternoon, I bought nearly 2 pounds of wild raw Jumbo Shrimp, on sale for $14.99 a pound, at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, where you'll find the best seafood counter in northern New Jersey, below.
A Whole Foods' employee gladly deveined my shrimp, which I plan to prepare tomorrow with the store's 365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Linguine in garlic and oil ($1.49 for a 1-pound box).