Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: Get hooked on National Fishing Month

Fish is an excellent source of protein.

“I am going to catch that fish!” my older daughter said, as she shook her little fist.

She was only about 4 years old at the time. I was standing on the dock nearby, watching her fishing attempts. She dropped a line from her junior-sized fishing rod in the shallow water and watched quietly and patiently.

I think the striped bass was taunting her: “Catch me if you can!”

She didn’t catch the fish, but she talked about it for months. She was “hooked” on fishing.

Later, she went to “fishing school” as part of a youth education program, and she caught some small fish. Recently, she went deep-water fishing in Florida and caught some large fish.

Maybe the tiny fish grew up and migrated to the south.

In August, we can celebrate National Fishing Month. Fishing has sustained humans who live near water for thousands of years. Fishing can be a competitive sport and also a relaxing hobby.

Fish is an excellent source of protein. On average, adults need 5 to 7 “ounce equivalents” of protein daily to nourish our muscles and the rest of our body. Protein from meat, poultry, fish, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, soy and other sources count toward the recommendation.

An ounce of cooked finfish (flounder, walleye, trout, salmon, tilapia and many other types of fish) counts toward our protein total.

Try to vary your protein sources. Protein foods nourish our bodies with B vitamins that help our bodies use the food energy we consume and also provide iron, zinc and magnesium. These minerals play important roles in maintaining our health.

Fish flesh is highly perishable. That’s pretty apparent if you have ever left fresh fish in your refrigerator too long or walked along a lakeshore.

Consider these tips to keep your “catch” at its best, whether you have a successful day angling on the water or you buy fresh fish at a market or grocery store.

  • When fishing, keep fish alive as long as possible in a metal link basket or live box.
  • If the water is warm, place the fish on ice or keep them in cool water. Don’t toss fish into the bottom of the boat where they will dry out or where their flesh may become bruised and susceptible to contamination. Keep fish out of sunlight and direct heat.
  • Fish in safe waters. For information on the safety of fishing waters, contact your local health department. Some waters may be contaminated by pesticides or other substances.
  • Clean and cool fish as soon as possible. Fresh fish should have firm flesh, a mild smell, bright eyes and red gills. Time and heat can rob freshness and flavor. Fish spoil rapidly due to their strong digestive juices. If fish are not cleaned promptly, off flavors may develop.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate when cleaning fish or preparing it. Clean the knife after each use. When you clean fish at home, wash your hands, the knife and the cutting board with warm soapy water after each use.
  • Store cleaned, fresh fish in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in a covered container and use within two days. Fish should be kept moist but not wet.
  • Freeze cleaned fish whole or as fillets. Improperly wrapped frozen fish may become dehydrated – that is, suffer “freezer burn” – due to contact with air. This condition negatively affects taste and texture.
  • Divide fish into family-size servings and use a plastic cling-type wrap as an inner covering and a moisture/vapor-proof freezer wrap as an outer covering. Bread bags, waxed paper and cellophane wraps are poor freezer wraps, so avoid their use in freezing foods.
  • Remember to press air from the package to help prevent off-flavors or odors characteristic of freezer burn or rancidity.
  • If freezer space is available, smaller fish may be placed in water in plastic containers or in clean wax- or plastic-lined milk containers, and then frozen. Label each package with the contents and date, then seal well.
  • Maintain the freezer temperature at be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. When freezing large amounts of food, scatter the packages throughout the freezer so the food freezes quickly.

Fish forms the basis for a healthful meal on the grill or under a broiler. Remember that deep-frying fish, although tasty, adds a lot of fat and calories without improving the nutritional profile.

Try brushing the fish with your favorite cooking oil (olive, canola) and sprinkling with seasonings, and place on a preheated (hot) grill for about 8 minutes per inch of fish. Remove carefully from the heat, then let the fish rest a few minutes so the juices migrate back into the fish.

Fish and seafood pair nicely with a citrus-based salsa. Here’s a tasty recipe to go with your favorite grilled fish.

Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced
1 large grapefruit, peeled, segmented and diced
½ red onion, diced
½ jalapeno (or a milder pepper), minced
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (approximately 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepared as indicated and combine in a bowl.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 60 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 0 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Aug. 3, 2023

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7881, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu


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