Cookbook salvages fish and chips into health choice

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A deep-fried favorite of the British, the classic preparation of fish and chips turns two fundamentally healthy foods into something of a fat-loaded dietary disaster.

Don't despair. With the guidance of a recipe in "Cooking Smart for a Healthy Heart"(Reader's Digest, 2005), cooks can rescue the fish and potatoes, add a few tomatoes and enjoy the best of both food worlds.

The book is packed with similar ideas for tasty dishes with nutrition smarts. It offers some 150 recipes for breakfast, main dishes and sides, through desserts, plus plenty of information and advice, along with lavish color photo illustrations.

The solution described in this heart-healthy revision ditches the deep-frying, and keeps the crispy coating by way of baking and broiling. To round out the meal, the cookbook's editors suggest serving the fish and chips with romaine lettuce hearts drizzled with fat-free ranch dressing, plus poached pears for dessert.

A health note: The potatoes contribute almost two-thirds of the fiber in this dish, with the tomatoes and bread crumbs accounting for the rest. Be sure to leave the potato skin on because that contains most of the fiber.

Fish 'n' Chips

(Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes)

3 large egg whites

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, unpeeled, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch slices

8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 skinless, boneless red snapper fillets (6 ounces each)

2 teaspoons paprika

3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together egg whites, water and oil in large, shallow bowl. Combine 3/4 cup bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese in separate shallow bowl. Dip potatoes in egg-white mixture, then in bread-crumb mixture and place on baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are crisp on the outside and cooked through, about 25 minutes, turning them over midway.

Meanwhile, place tomatoes, cut-side up, on separate baking pan. In small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Sprinkle tomatoes with bread-crumb mixture and place in oven for final 10 minutes of potato-baking time.

Spray a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish on broiler pan. Sprinkle fish with paprika, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Remove potatoes and tomatoes from oven and preheat broiler. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Broil fish 4 inches from heat, until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 495 cal., 7.5 g total fat (2 g saturated), 69 mg chol., 828 mg sodium, 58 g carbo., 6 g dietary fiber, 48 g pro.

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