Vegetables, seafood mix for a delightful stir-fry
Looking for something light, refreshing and easy? Think vegetables and seafood. I think seafood tends to sometimes intimidate people, for a variety of reasons. Maybe it's too expensive; maybe it seems like it's hard to prepare? For whatever reason, I don't have many friends who seem to enjoy cooking seafood -- it's more of an "order out" kind of thing.
I'll admit, I'm a salmon lover, but recently, I have been seeing some pretty good-looking fresh cod at Kroger, and I've mastered my technique in preparing this quickly. All it really takes with white fish like cod is a hot oven, cooking spray (you can use a little olive oil or even coconut oil if you want, but I feel like it's good enough without that added fat), fresh lemon juice, a little garlic salt and pepper, and rosemary and I'm satisfied. I'll usually bake a couple large fillets (about 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees) one night a week and I typically get a couple lunches from my leftovers as well.
It's not fancy, but it's a super healthy protein and takes almost no effort. Cod is so light, my 4-year-old daughter even enjoys her fish dinners. It's about the healthiest thing she likes.
But let's face it. We all like to mix it up a bit from time to time. I love seafood, and so when a friend of mine suggested a seafood stir-fry I thought it was another great way to prepare my favorite white fish. Stir-fries are easy, and you really can't mess them up.
On a budget? With a seafood stir-fry, you really don't need fresh seafood. There's a frozen seafood section at Kroger and the prices are reasonable. There, you'll find cod, shrimp, scallops and crabmeat that marry perfectly with whatever your choice vegetables and seasonings may be. (This is not to say you can't use fresh if that's what you prefer).
But for a weeknight meal that's super healthy and fairly fast to prepare, I have an idea I think you'll enjoy.
This stir-fry combines frozen cod, shrimp, bay scallops and crabmeat (again, all from the frozen seafood section), with vegetables including cabbage, onion, garlic and bell peppers. Mushrooms would have made it into my dinner had they not accidentally been forgotten.
You can really do this two ways. One option is to heat your pan with a little oil and brown the protein, just for a minute or two, and then remove from the pan while you cook the vegetables, adding the seafood back to the pan at the end of the process. The second option, which is more of a "sauté" than a stir-fry, is what I like even better because of the cabbage component.
Basically, here's how it works:
Boil cabbage for a bit just to soften it up. When it's soft enough to work with, chop it up. While the cabbage is boiling, chop up some onion, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Cut up the frozen cod into one-inch cubes and have all your other seafood on the counter ready to throw in the pan when the time comes.
When you're all prepped, add a small amount of olive oil to a pan and warm pan up to about medium temperature. Add the cabbage and sauté for a bit, adding water or chicken broth along the way. Next, add the remaining vegetables, cover and sauté until vegetables start to become tender. Add garlic and whatever other seasonings you might enjoy. This is where I would add fresh ginger root to the pan, however you could go another route and add some Italian seasoning and balsamic vinegar, which is equally as tasty.
After the vegetables have cooked for a while, add the cod, shrimp and scallops. Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 10 minutes until cooked through. At the very end, add the crab (if you are using imitation crab it's already cooked so all you're doing at this point is heating it through).
Throughout the process, you'll have to continue to add small amounts of liquid, whether it's water or broth, in order to keep those delicious veggies steaming to perfection -- but I can't tell you an exact amount. You'll have to eyeball it and trust your instincts.
Remember, cooking can be fun and it doesn't have to be intimidating -- even seafood. Give it a try, mix it up and make your own healthful creations.
-- Sadie Fowler is editor of the Times-Gazette and may be reached at email@example.com.