Roasted Salmon Steaks – with a lemon-butter sauce. Easy and delicious!
4-6 Fishvish Atlantic Salmon Steaks (500 grams)
1/3 cup butter
Juice of 2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Chopped coriander or basil leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 200° C.
Butter a 9-by 12-inch baking dish.
Place the Fishvish Atlantic Salmon Steaks in the prepared dish.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and paprika; add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Liberally drizzle the sauce over the salmon. Bake for 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness, or until desired doneness.
In this blog post, we’ll take a close look at some of the false concepts floating around (pun intended) about seafood. We’ll see whether these notions are purely fictitious or if they have an element of truth in them.
Myth 1 – DAIRY
Much A Moo About Nothing
In our culture, the most common myth that’s persisted for far too long is that seafood and dairy can’t be consumed together. There has been no scientific evidence or study that proves this theory however many people believe this to be true. It’s a myth that extends to other milk-based products such as yogurt and cheese. And, the myth gets very specific mentioning that combining dairy with fish gives one skin ailments.
Seafood and milk, a toxic combination.
An unfounded myth. Many traditional seafood dishes have a cream-base for which milk is used:
This British classic recipe involves poaching fish like cod, salmon, and haddock or halibut in milk. The subtle sweetness of the milk adds richness to this classic comfort food.
Passion is French for fish. Some versions of this French recipe dip the fish in milk, to help with the browning, before rolling it in flour.
Seafood and yogurt, a toxic combination.
An extension of the milk and seafood myth. Many popular Indian recipes are testament to the fact that not only is this belief untrue but also that these two make for a delicious combination.
Yogurt-based curries and marinades
There are countless recipes in India that use yogurt for marinating the fish. Yogurt adds a tang to balance the spices used for flavouring a dish. The subcontinent’s favourite appetiser, the fish tikka, is such a hit due to the contrasting flavours of the yogurt marinade’s subtle sourness with the spicy, smoky-ness of the tikkas. Bengali doi maach, cooked in a yogurt-based gravy, also captures well this interplay of flavours between spices, mustard oil, and yogurt.
Unless, you’re lactose intolerant or you have a seafood allergy, there’s no cause for you to be concerned while having seafood and dairy together. Especially since there’s no scientific proof of that supports this urban legend. Just be mindful that both these foods are perishable, hence, buying unadulterated, fresh produce from a trusted source is of prime importance. Of course, it is still a matter of taste, you may or may not like to combine these two foods depending in whether the interplay of flavours appeals to you or not. However, it would be taking it too far to actually believe that the two are a poisonous combination.
Good things can happen when fish and dairy come together. Don’t miss out on such experiences simply due to some old wives’ tales.
Myth 2 – SEAFOOD SMELL
Nothing fishy about it!
Fresh seafood doesn’t have a strong smell
A common misunderstanding is that all seafood has a strong odour. Well, fresh fish usually only has a mild smell. Once it is out of water, if the prescribed quick freezing process is not followed to preserve the freshness of the catch then it begins to decompose pretty quickly, emitting a foul odour.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, states, “Fish begins to spoil immediately after being removed from the water. This is reflected in gradual developments of undesirable flavours, softening of the flesh and eventually substantial losses of fluid containing protein and fat. By lowering the temperature of the fish, spoilage can be retarded and, if the temperature is kept low enough, spoilage can be almost stopped.” They further mention, “The freezing process alone is not a method of preservation. It is merely the means of preparing the fish for storage at a suitably low temperature. In order to produce a good product, freezing must be accomplished quickly. A freezer requires to be specially designed for this purpose and thus freezing is a separate process from low temperature storage.” Read more here
So, how a fish is handled, what process is followed for maintaining its freshness, and whether the right equipment is used for all of this plays a big role in how it smells. Basically, this belief that seafood in general has a ‘fishy’ smell is false. This myth probably came to be due to the fact that proper procedures for preservation of seafood are not necessarily followed by all hence it is more than likely that most people would’ve experienced this rancid smell, one time or the other at the fish market, when the fish on sale has begun to rot.
However, it is important to make the distinction between the smell of fresh seafood vs that which has begun to deteriorate in quality; fresh raw produce only has a faint smell, it does not have a ‘fishy smell’.
So, seafood that smells fine is good for consumption.
Although smell is an indicator of freshness, it is not the only indicator. Hence, if a fish smells fine it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fresh. In addition to the smell, the texture and colour also need to be taken into consideration. There multiple indicators of freshness and you should be mindful of all of them when you’re buying fish. Here’s some quick tips to help you with the signs you should look for when assessing the quality of seafood.
Myth 3 – SEAFOOD RAISES BLOOD CHOLESTEROL
The long and short of it
The fact of the matter is that overeating any kind of food, even those that might popularly be considered as healthy, is not advisable. Each food type offers some nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Instead of looking at food in a one dimensional way- high cholesterol vs low cholesterol or fatty vs low-fat – one should have wider perspective when it comes to what constitutes one’s diet. For example, certain seafood might have high cholesterol but at the same time it might be heart healthy as it could be a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. So, by eliminating it from your diet you might do more damage than good to your health. A more pragmatic approach to food consumption lies in eating a well-balanced diet. Include as many food types as possible (no, junk food is not a food-type, by food types we mean vegetables, meats, dairy and seafood) and eat the recommended portions on a weekly basis to supply your body with the nutrients that it needs for optimal functioning.
A well-balanced meal
Consult your physician if you feel that some food types might be doing you harm but please do not self-diagnose and eliminate foods by following food-trends found on the internet; remember the old phrase, “half the knowledge is dangerous.”
Myth 4 – SEAFOOD & MONSOON
Stocking up for a rainy day
Storm front approaching
Another myth is that eating seafood during the monsoons is bad for your health. Well, to begin with, sea voyages during the rains are hard to make. Plus, this also happens to be the spawning season for fish along the Western Coast. So, considering that we would not like fishermen to make risky sea journeys for our seafood it makes sense not to source sea catch during this season. But this does not mean that eating seafood during rains has an adverse effect on your health. The rain does not hamper the digestion of fish. If that was the case then the tropical countries of Southeast Asia, that are blessed with plentiful of rainfall through the year, would not be consuming seafood all year round.
Not going out to sea to fish during the monsoon season is desirable, but not eating seafood during monsoons is not logical. Both, because of the advancement in fish farming as well as cold chain management and technology. The cold chain management in seafood trade allows us to preserve fish for 18-24 months hence, making it possible for fish to be sourced from across the country and be made available for consumption during the rainy season.
Bottom-line is that if you’re buying frozen seafood from a trusted source there’s no reason for you to not enjoy a sizzling fish steak or warm fish broth on a cold, rainy day.
Enjoy your bowl of fish soup on a cold, rainy day
Myth making is a part of all cultures, seafood culture included, but it does us no good when we’re no longer able to tell fact from fiction. In the case of seafood, when we begin to believe stories that are untrue it stops us from getting the most out of our seafood experience. For you to enjoy seafood as it’s meant to be, question what you hear, see if there’s any scientific proof to support these theories and then make informed choices. It’s definitely worth the trouble.
Aquaculture [/ˈakwəkʌltʃə/] – [noun] The rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food.
The farming of fish is said to have begun as early as 3500 BCE in China. The Chinese used to farm carp, a fish native to China, in freshwater ponds on silk farms. The monsoon would result in the waters from the rivers entering paddy fields and the surrounding irrigation ponds, these waters would bring with them common fish like carp. Over a period of time, the Chinese must’ve noticed that these fish could easily be cultivated in the ponds which must’ve led them to start farming fish.
The cultivation of freshwater and saltwater fish
Similarly, as per the hieroglyphs, 2500 BCE, ancient Egyptians had begun the aquaculture of Tilapia, a variety of freshwater fish, in ponds along the Nile River. The Japanese had started farming freshwater fish around 100 BCE. While the Romans are believed to have begun oyster farming in coastal lagoons sometime during the 1st century BCE.
By the medieval times, the farming of aquatic animals such as fish, molluscs, and crustaceans was being practised in most parts of the world to meet the growing demand for seafood.
The Middle Ages
Fishing fleets were common in this era. This period saw the growth of markets and fairs where people could buy and sell goods. Here, the fishmongers would set up stalls with fish from the sea, freshwater, and those that were farmed in fishponds. Medieval England had marketplaces where a great variety of seafood could be bought like mackerel, herring, lampreys, stockfish, cod, eels, cured salmon, and live crabs.
The Great Fish Market, painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder
People began to experiment with seafood recipes. The Irish liked to grill their fish on a griddle. The Japanese had found many different ways to cook fish such as nikogori (jellied fish), grilled fish, fish soup, and the use of dressing to add flavour to a fish salad. In the 14th century a cookbook called ‘The Forme of Cury’ was written by the Master-Cooks of King RICHARD II, which had a number of freshwater fish and seafood recipes.
The forme of cury : a roll of ancient English cookery, compiled, about A.D. 1390, by the master-cooks of King Richard II, presented afterwards to Queen Elizabeth, by Edward, lord Stafford, and now in the possession of Gustavus Brander, Esq.
Culinary prowess had started to receive the acclaim that it deserved in most kingdoms and this motivated the cooks to try new things in the kitchen. Where seafood cooking was concerned the medieval times can be termed as anything but the dark ages!
Fishing lamprey in a stream; Tacuinum Sanitatis, 15th century
Modern History, The Age Of Discovery
This was the era of scientific discoveries and inventions. During this time, boats began to be redesigned for better efficiency. The Dutch developed the Herring Buss in the 15th century, which was used for catching fish with long gill nets. By the 17th century, the British had developed an early version of a long-liner, called the Dogger, which was effective for fishing in the rough waters of the North Sea. In the 18th century, the lightweight and easy to build, Dories were introduced for catching cod. In the south-west of England, in the fishing town of Brixham, the Brixham trawler was developed in the 19th century with the intention of travelling longer distances to fish in the ocean. By the late 19th century steam power had begun to be used for powering fishing boats.
Herring Buss taking aboard its drift net (G. Groenewegen)
Further advancements in technology meant mechanization of tasks such as hauling, also better navigation systems, better equipment for finding and trapping fish, and for preserving the freshness of the raw produce.
The Digital Age As the world has become more interconnected in this age of information, it has influenced how we communicate, carry out our work, our social interactions, and how we trade goods and services.
The Digital World
It has also redefined our seafood story. The technological progress over the ages has provided us with more capable fishing crafts and better tools for harvesting seafood, be it angling, netting, trolling, long-lining, or dredging. New cold chain advancements have led to an increase in shelf life while maintaining freshness/quality of produce and have made a variety of quality seafood available irrespective of geography. The Internet on the other hand has made it possible for us to access seafood from the comfort of our homes. It connects the buyer and the seller in a seamless manner, making it possible for almost anyone to have the choicest seafood delivered directly to their doorstep.
The dawn of agriculture during ancient history resulted in us not having to go foraging for our food in the wild anymore. Similarly, the beginning of this information era has made it possible for us to not to have to step out to shop for our raw produce as we can now buy it online. In most cases, when buying from a trusted source, it is a convenient and hassle-free experience that helps us save time and the effort. Basically, quality seafood is now just a click away due to internet-based home delivery services.
As we move forward, the internet, which offers us the platform to buy our seafood as per our convenience and helps us access a wide variety of the finest quality of raw produce, will continue to shape our seafood story further.
History Extra, Feature, Time traveller’s guide medieval shopping. Published on Monday 1st September 2014. Submitted by: Emma Mason. This article was first published in the October 2008 issue of BBC History Magazine.
We left off last week with these 2 questions to be answered for ourselves before really diving into this business ‘all in’.
Do we really see ourselves doing this 5-8 years from now?
Why are we really doing this?
The second question was the one that really needed to be answered. Sure we loved seafood and wanted much better quality and we wanted variety. This “settling” for inferior quality and lack of options had to stop. We believed that there were more people out there who didn’t realise that they were ‘making do’ and we wanted to stop them from having to settle for their seafood. Why should they considering we are a nation with a 7517 Kms coastline and a multitude of rivers. The variety and quality were both out there, we just needed to bridge the gap.
Our confidence of seeing this through came from our experience of running a restaurant and the learning from that actually applied directly to our concepts of quality and variety. Dishes we were introducing with seafood that you wouldn’t usually find locally were being lapped up! Customers were actually asking about different types of seafood and the whole “surmai, pomfret, bangda and basa” dependency was relegated to the back burner. Sure, there was a large number that still wanted the tried and tested but there was a fairly large number that wanted to try the new stuff.
With this confidence came the motivation and though we still had to dig deep, we just knew that this is what we wanted to do. We were now completely committed and that answered the first question as a natural extension.
We now needed to prioritize the 5 areas though each was as important as the other.
Seafood Processing Factories
Supply chain was essential. If you don’t have the product you cant sell it. Quality of product was our mantra and we decided very early that we will only sell high quality products. We traveled all over India for a little over 2 years, finding certified export houses who might be willing to supply us. Our quantities at the time were really small and most just laughed at us. They could not believe what we wanted to do. Still, we stuck at it and we did finally get a few of them to agree to supply and we were off.
Now we needed to tie up the first leg of the cold chain – inter state transport. Quantities were too small for the big cold chain players but we got lucky somewhat and our suppliers got their transport partners to ferry our shipments for us from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal to Pune.
The second leg of the cold chain was rented space in a commercial cold storage in Pune and a few industrial freezers at our office cum distribution center.
The third leg was the last mile delivery and we decided to not trust any one with this and decided to deliver ourselves. Two-wheelers with insulated bags and freeze packs was our mode of choice and it’s working really well.
So we figured okay we’ve got quality seafood products, good variety which is continually growing and we’ve got and if not the best cold chain setup. 3 out of 5 problem areas are being dealt with.
We now shifted focus to our packaging and distribution. This was crunch time. Should we be a brand among many on the shelves of retailers? Should we be distributors? Should we innovate and do it a little differently? We went with option 3. No retail stores or distributors for us. We are a brand that stands for “choicest seafood”. A brand that provides an ever growing variety of quality products. A brand that thinks about the customers convenience first. A clear value proposition.
Slashing Non-Essential Costs
Packaging took a while to finalize as we questioned the need to add 8-12% of product cost on packaging when the customer would only see it when delivered. Customers want our product, let’s sell them that, not packaging. We went as thrifty as we possibly could without compromising on the quality of the packaging materials. It needed to be food and freezer grade and we’ve made no compromises there. We managed to slash down all non-essential packaging costs. Another problem area dealt with, for now anyway.
40% margins to a retailer seemed an awful lot to us. I mean we were here to make money too. It is a business after all. Why not market the product ourselves, we’ll warehouse and sell direct to the customers with doorstep delivery, in most cases on the same day. That cannot cost us 40%! And what we do save we can (and do) pass on to the customer. Win win for the customer and us.
Our goals is to bring you the bounty of choicest seafood that’s available in India. Over 70 varieties are commercially harvested in different parts of the country. Fishvish today has got a fair chunk of this variety and the inventory is continually growing.
We have a few pleasant surprises coming your way soon. Stay tuned. As a recently popular TV character famously said “It will be legen…. wait for it…. dary”.
So, cooking’s come a long way since humans discovered fire, and with it, has the evolution of our palates. This has progressed to one of those whacky sciences that amaze you with new findings. But it doesn’t stop there. The knowledge is out of labs with people in white coats working in them to the street, where common folk like us want to know if we are supertasters. Matters of the taste buds are serious everyday business.
We’re asking for more flavours, colours, and ingredients at the dining table too.
The quest for variety and taste drives most of our food choices. Since we’re asking for more everywhere, we expect and seek variations of flavour, appearance, colour, ingredients etc. at the dining table too. Our taste buds are more accepting of ‘foreign’ flavours now; some years ago, blue cheese would’ve been considered unpalatable by many, as would have pâté or sushi. Now more restaurants feature these and other “tricky” dishes, which are finding more popularity steadily. Some seekers of adventure are taking the refinement of taste so seriously, they’re willing to give more foods a second chance which, at the first whirl, didn’t light up their palates.
Wanderlust and Wonderment
Seafood retailers say consumers are getting adventurous and asking for varieties like octopus.
This newfound sense of freedom (from conventional choices) and thrill-seeking reflects in consumer behaviour in the seafood retail space as well. Says Shumu Gupta, one of Fishvish’s co-founders who first started with a restaurant: “We’re sometimes surprised by the levels of consumer awareness these days. People are travelling across the world and are going beyond pomfret and surmai that are traditionally typical “safe” choices. They return home and scout for produce and ingredients to recreate some of the magic of their travels. They want to go beyond cooking seafood “out of shape”—cooking it to the point of no recognition— which is what happens when you cook seafood for too long. They’re asking for octopus, squid, tuna and more; the first time we got emperor fillets, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but we found consumers interested in those too.”
Travel indeed is the catalyst at play, the mainspring of the adventure wave. Shumu reveals how it converted him: “It was travel that made a fish-eater out of me. On your trips to various destinations, you eat many kinds of food, and appreciate the quality and taste. You would, of course, want to enjoy the experiences again without the effort and spend of a trip.”
For those of us who can’t plan long trips to buzzing cities and picturesque locales, there are more than enough resources to fill us in. A television show which revolves around a cooking competition may explain and depict examples of deconstruction in cookery. A website review of the latest fine dining restaurant to hit the culinary scene may talk about the degustation menu that showcases a selection of the establishment’s offerings. You may come across a blog post that discusses molecular gastronomy.
There are plenty of ideas to plan a DIY seafood degustation menu
Little wonder, then, that connoisseurs of good food have taken to the art of dishing up delicacies themselves, with guidance from the masters and the experts who share videos and recipes that break down complicated instructions into easy-to-achieve milestones. There are even layman accounts of trial and error that’ll inspire the novice to stay the course, and to expect and cross obstacles as they come. So you’ll find a deconstructed fish pie recipe inspired by TV; the dish has both the flakiness of the crust and richness of the creamy salmon and haddock filling. There are degustation menu ideas that make the most of your meal’s theme; so, a seafood-centric menu like this may have everything from oysters and tuna to prawns and snapper. Heck, there are videos featuring Heston Blumenthal cook his Perfect Fish and Chips that can take up almost eight hours to make.
You Want It? We Got It
For those who’d rather devote their efforts to the art and pleasure of fine dining, restaurants are going all out to ensure memorable experiences. We eat out much more now than we did a decade or two ago, as a consequence of the crunch for time and the convenience of having more options around to choose from. Thanks to the support of their patrons who are seeking out of the ordinary experiences increasingly, more dining establishments are daring to experiment with cuisines, themes, locations etc. Prashant Issar has been in the restaurant business “all his life”, as he himself describes it. Last year, he opened a restaurant called Mirchi And Mime in Mumbai that stands out for its menu, but more so for its service; the waitstaff are hearing and speech impaired. About dining trends, he says: “People are more conscious about what they eat now; an increasing number of consumers are turning to fish, since they realize it’s much healthier than red meat, or even chicken, for that matter. They’re trying new varieties everywhere they go, and requesting for specific species, if they’ve tried it somewhere else and have liked it. For our restaurant in Mumbai, we’ve received inquiries about barramundi, black cod, hamour etc, all of which come from different parts of the world. A lot of diners see a variety on the menu that they haven’t sampled before, and are keen to order it, if only out of curiosity.”
He sees the awareness extend to other stakeholders in the supply chain. “Our local supply guy, who brings us fresh catch from the middle of the sea on his boat, can easily explain the difference in varieties, including the local and global names, characteristics etc. Overall, there is better quality and availability, which in turn builds more confidence that reflect in menus today. People are ready to think beyond basa and betki.”
It’s easy to find a Thai steamed fish around you today.
They are, indeed. They are also more than willing to look away from curries and fries, to dishes that retain the fresh flavour of seafood produce or play along harmoniously with fish varieties in preparations that don’t customarily call for seafood. Prashant’s restaurant’s menu lists dishes like Lobster Nihari and Lobster Makhani, and Masala Fish Tempura. Southeast Asian cuisine is pretty big at the moment, says Shumu; so, it’s very easy to find Thai steamed fish or Malaysian grilled fish in banana leaves around you.
Here Comes the Hotstepper
We’re compiling lists of dishes we want to eat and places we want to dine at
The search for good food is now a surging movement that has spawned a whole slew of experts, food guides, social media groups and communities. We’re talking about how food should be. We’re putting up pictures of meals we have cooked, and the experience of putting them together. We’re sharing photos and reviews of meals we have eaten. We’re meeting complete strangers around a table, bonding over our mutual love for food. We’re putting together lists of dishes we want to cook and eat, and restaurants we want to dine at, based on recommendations. We’re ticking these off, one tasty meal at a time.
About the Author An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.