It is sweet and salty; a perfect mixture of delicious texture and alluring aroma. The meat slides easily down your throat, as the sauce lingers on your tongue. It’s one of my favourite dishes, and let me assure you I’ve tried a great many.
The dish is a traditional fish meal, where the entire fish is steamed to perfection, generously lathered with a sweet soy sauce, sliced green onions and garlic, and served whole with a side of rice. Each part of the fish has a tale and role in Chinese culture, from the spine to the head.
What makes fish so admired in Chinese culture is the health benefits that come with it. Every part of the fish is sought after, from the belly of the fish, where all the vitamins are, to the head, where as you lift the scales of the cheek, the little pocket of muscles is a sliver of both delight and nutrition.
Despite the recent concerns regarding mercury and dioxin contamination within these scaly creatures, the healthy benefits gained from eating fish greatly outweigh the risks. High in protein and full of omega-3 fatty acids, the natural fish oils within the fish help improve the heart.
The comprehensive study was tackled by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) who looked at evidence of the major health effects from the vitamins and contaminants of fish.
Published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006, the comparison revealed eating a modest amount of fish reduced the risk of death by heart disease by 36 percent.
Authors of the study also found that for the growing children, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids are likely to improve early brain development. Pregnant or nursing mothers who consumed fish can also benefit the child. The researchers, however, warn expectant mothers to watch for the type of fish they eat, ignoring the golden bass, king mackerel, shark and swordfish for their higher levels of possible contaminants.
While there’s no proof as of yet that devouring the eyes and brain of a fish will help eyesight or stimulate brain functions any faster, recent studies do prove that there are many advantages of consuming these finned creatures. Health Canada, however, warns that the organs of fish can be dangerously high in both heavy metals and pesticides, and under no circumstances should fish organs be consumed.
I love fish and I love trying new items that I’ve never tasted before. My philosophy is, “If you’ve never tasted it before, you’ve never tried it. If you’ve never tried it, you have no idea what you’re missing.”