Monday, November 11, 2013

Here comes winter - and the steamy fish

If someone asks me which weather I like the most - I would not hesitate to name winters. Ask me why so - well if you really asked, let me tell you why.

Winters bring with it all types of steamy fish that one does not care much about the rest of the year. And what could be more fun in sitting out in cold night with a freshly baked fish right in front of you with its steamy aroma making the night romantic and memorable. But that is not all.

If a bonfire is nearby, sit close to it and get a warmth permeating through your body from the side of the fire - while the other side of the body is still chilly and cold. And then come the steaming halwa of carrot or dall that cements the joy of the night forever.

Photos: Jalal HB

In winters, one must keep oneself warm lest many 'traditional' winter ailments come attacking. And one of the best antidote against winters cold is eating fish - and lot of fish before the winters pass away, unfortunately these do so very quickly.

Those living in Lahore are lucky as there are lot of places in Lahore where one can buy quality fish. Sardar and Ibrahim are to names of Lahore that make best fish, served sizzling hot if you want to eat right at the shop. And sitting outside in the cold, eating steaming hot fish has no parallel. I you haven't tried this, do it this winter - it will be a lifetime memory.

Although I have varied experiences of eating fish, a night at Ramsar, Iran is unforgettable. I was attending a course in Iran in awhile ago and my neighbour who had a villa in Ramsar, invited me there. So when we had a winter break, I packed up my small Renault car with my family and went to Ramsar. Remember Ramsar? Ramsar is located right on the Caspian Sea and it was here that the first and inaugural meeting of RCD (Regional Cooperation for Development) between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey was held.

And it was here one night that my Iranian host told me that he would be serving us freshly baked Sturgeon fish, which was otherwise forbidden to be caught for it is only used for high quality caviare.  And at night right there in his drawing room on the well lit wood in the fire place, he put the skewered Sturgeon fish and served us sizzling hot. And I can only tell you that that was the best fish I had ever eaten.

Why eat fish? Well food experts and doctors say that fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids, which are found lacking in most diets, and can reduce some problems associated with PMS, memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, and stroke. The tissues of oily fish provide fish oil which contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors to eicosanoids (believe me it is hard to pronounce such medical terms – so I write exactly as I found out) that reduce inflammation throughout the body and are therefore recommended by experts for a healthy diet.

Now while eating fish is beneficial for health, the kind of fish we eat at Sardars and Ibrahims or anywhere else which is heavily deep fried in vegetable oil is certainly not the kind of fish we should be eating. and I have seen people eating the deep fried fish in kilos, am not joking. These fish friendly people, specially in Lahore, sit outside in the December nights and the 'in flow' of fish continues in consignments of kilo in succession.

We need to eat fish, preferably steamed with least oil applied. While I was in Iran, my land lady would often make the steamed fish and I tell you that nothing tastes like a steamed fish. So when eating fish, try to eat steamed fish, but certainly not in kilos. However, one should eat it often 2-3 times a week in winters.

One should also be mindful of type of sea fish as some of these contain higher amounts of mercury like Tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark and should not be consumed at all. However, Shrimp, salmon, pollocks, canned light tuna, shrimp and catfish contain lower levels of mercury, but should not be eaten more than 12 ounces in a week.

So lets be healthy by eating fish this winter steamed not deep fried!!

(Improvement on an earlier post 'Winter and Fish go together')


Felix Lee said...

I love steamed fish. Aside from being healthy, steamed fish also are more delicious and juicy to eat.

Anonymous said...