The American Heart Association recommends that people consume two servings of fish a week. However, according to omega-3 fatty acids researcher William Harris, PhD, Americans fall short of the recommendation. If that includes you, don't worry, we've got some delish side items to help motivate you to make more of those heart-healthy fish entrees. Pairing up compatible sides with fish entails factoring in spices and the method of food preparation. Encourage reluctant eaters by adding both traditional and innovative side dishes. With the right combination, both artful and simple side-dish recipes can make a difference with fish entrees.
Menus for grilled fish, which are often made for outdoor events, call for side dishes that are informal, finger-friendly and appropriate for picnics. Grilled vegetable kabobs easily accompany any grilled fish entrees and are easy to modify. A large mushroom-only kabob can be as savory as a kabob with various vegetables or grilled asparagus with chilled lemon hollandaise sauce complements many fish recipes.
A tossed leafy green salad with a creamy garlic dressing makes a simple and satisfying side accompaniment as well. With blackened catfish or barbecued glazed salmon, a cold dill-potato salad would also be a great option. Or, try seared tuna served with baby spinach salad and a mango chutney. Foil-wrapped baked potatoes are a more substantial side dish. To make them, boil potatoes for 10 minutes before grilling. Skip the sour cream, cheese and bacon filling, and instead offer grilled tomatoes with a fresh tarragon-olive oil mix to drizzle. Grilled corn in the husks to make another hearty side dish could be a great summer option, too. Presoak corn in the husks until completely saturated before putting them on the grill. Garnish with butter, fresh parsley and lime.
Dishes accompanying baked fish
Lemon rice pilaf cooked in vegetable stock can complement many baked fish dishes. Stir 1 cup of rice into 2 cups of boiling vegetable stock for 5 minutes. Reduce heat, adding chopped scallions and 1 tsp. of dried lemon verbena. Cover the pot and simmer rice for about 30 minutes or until tender. Let stand for 5 minutes, and add a twist of fresh lemon to the rice. Another option could be spinach sautéed lightly with 1/4 cup of shallots can accompany baked fish meals such as Parmesan tilapia and miso-glazed sea bass. Or, ratatouille can accompany a white fish such as cod baked in a white wine bath, with olives, capers, garlic, tomato and topped with bread crumbs for a Mediterranean twist. For fish filled with bread stuffing, Tuna casseroles and other baked fish all-in-one meals need only a light accompaniment, such as a leafy salad and crusty whole-grain bread.
Louisiana — or Cajun-style — side dishes go well with any fried blackened fish entrees. Pair up blackened fish fillets with smoked baked beans and potato salad. Macaroni and cheese and collard greens are popular sides with Cajun-influenced fish meals as well. Cornmeal-fried fish such as buffalo or gar are complemented by hush puppies or corn-battered okra. Include raw chopped green kale salad with beefsteak tomatoes and a vinaigrette to balance the heavy fried oils and breading. We also love partnering beer-battered fried cod or whitefish, with french fries for a fish 'n' chips meal. Substitute starchy Idaho potatoes with fiber-rich sweet potato fries. Scrub sweet potatoes, leaving the skin on for extra nutrients, and cut into wedges. Bake in a shallow pan in light olive oil for about 45 minutes. Or, for a fresh take, offer avocado, cucumber, tomato and crunchy green pepper slices with a twist of lemon, ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil as a salad or as a substitute for the potatoes.
Kathy Price has been writing since 1990. Her work appears in “Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe," “African Voices” and "The World." Price taught at City University of New York for six years, edited "Tribes" magazine and received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.