Fish: Food for Your Brain?

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Various studies have linked countries with higher rates of fish consumption to lower rates of depression and bipolar disorder. Mind you, “link” does not equate to “proof.” But medical science is coming close to validating that old wives tale about fish as brain food.

    McMan’s Brainy Fish and Chips

    Let’s start with the chips. Peel and slice a russett potato or two into thin french-fry strips, liberally apply salt, cover, and refrigerate. The salt has a way of leeching the moisture out of the potato, while the fridge also helps with drying out. You can wipe off the excess salt later with paper towels, which also serves to sop up excess moisture.
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    While the chips are in the fridge …

    Cut up a ¾ fillet of cod into four pieces. Season and dredge the pieces in flour. Dunk the floured pieces into a shallow bowl of about a ½ cup of EggBeaters (or another egg white-based product), making sure the fish is thoroughly coated, then into another shallow bowl of bread crumbs, again making sure the fish is thoroughly coated. Place the pieces on a plate and set aside.

    Now back to the chips …

    Fries are considered dangerous food because restaurants typically deep-fry them in saturated fat or transfat. But you can enjoy these tasty treats practically guilt-free by frying in canola oil. I pour about three or four cups of oil into a wok and heat. If you look like the Phantom of the Opera after sticking your face in, the oil is hot enough.
    Hot oil is essential to a good chip. Not hot enough and the chip absorbs the oil and comes out limp and soggy, with no crispy outside. You can test the waters with one of your chips. If it just sits there you need to wait longer or turn up the heat. If it reacts with some kind of sizzle you’re in business.

    VERY CAREFULLY place the chips into the wok (or deep fryer) making sure each fingerling has plenty of room to swim. Ten or 15 minutes should do the trick. VERY CAREFULLY remove the chips from the oil (I use a large skimmer) and set down on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil (but not too long, as chips have a way of losing their crispy texture very fast).

    Meanwhile, with the fish …

    About halfway into frying your chips, you want to get your fish going. In a large frying pan, heat up a little canola oil, then carefully place your fish in the pan. Give each piece plenty of breathing room. Avoid the temptation to move the fish once it hits the pan. Fish (and chicken and red meat) stick to the pan in the early minutes of cooking. If you move any pieces at this stage, the bread crumb coating will come off and the fish will flake apart before your very eyes. In five minutes, you can safely turn over your fish, then cook for another three or four or five minutes. Place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

    Now for the piece de la resistance …

    While the fish and chips are going, scoop out three or four large dollops of no-fat mayonnaise into a large measuring cup or small bowl and add a splash or two of vinegar. This is your “secret sauce” that guests will think you learned in the kitchens of the masters. Spread the sauce over the fish, but don’t just stop there. Mayo-based sauces are part and parcel of the European “pommes frites” experience, so dole out a generous portion on the side of each plate, and your dinner companion won’t ask where’s the ketchup.

  • You may want to complete the secret sauce trifecta by serving with asparagus. Otherwise, salad will do. Serves two. Bon appetit.
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    For more information on how you can incorporate brain-healthy habits into your daily routine, read our guide to Lifestyle Changes for combatting bipolar disorder.

Published On: March 20, 2006