Stock up on quality seafood this Lenten season

Frozen salmon and scallops from Cold Storage. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

This Lent, the Christian/Catholic believers are encouraged to fast and/or abstain. According to the Catholic website Dominus Est (DominusEst.PH), fasting is the act of reducing one’s intake of food to one meal a day or two small meals that count as one meal. Abstinence is the cessation of meat from mammals and poultry, including soup made from it, and is usually done on Fridays. Then it’s time to become a pescatarian!

Marco Qua, president of Cold Storage, which imports and packages seafood from around the world, has tips for knowing if your seafood is fresh.

First buy fresh from the market or at least from reliable brands that practice sustainable and ethical sourcing. For Cold Storage, he shares, they go to trade shows to really look for partners who are not only committed to sustainability, but have the credentials to prove it.

Second, buy seafood from a place of origin that already has a reputation for quality seafood. For salmon, for example, we know that Norwegian salmon is excellent. Chile’s Patagonia region has also developed a reputation for producing good salmon. The United States has a very good reputation for scallops. Wild-caught US Atlantic scallop is sustainably managed and harvested responsibly according to US regulations.

Third, look for quality. This is a given. But how do you know that what you are buying is quality seafood? Here are some more tips: With salmon, make sure the color is consistent, not overly pink or orange. It also needs to be handled carefully to prevent bruising and preserve its natural structure. For halibut, such as salmon, avoid discolorations such as spots on the flesh and skin or green or yellow fat. With scallops, watch for discoloration and freezer burn, which can degrade quality. Also pat each piece dry before cooking.

Then you not only get points in heaven; you also get health benefits! Salmon is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients such as B12 and B6, and micronutrients such as selenium and niacin. Halibut is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and niacin. It also contains phosphorus, which is important for bone health, and magnesium, which helps with muscle movement. You’ll soon emerge from this as a healthier, stronger you!

Finally, to maintain your abstinence throughout the 40 day fast, make sure the seafood you feed yourself tastes great! If you don’t really cook, you can get pre-cut packaged salmon like Cold Storage’s Portion Cut, a horizontal fillet that contains both the lean meat and belly portion of the salmon and is best for baking, broiling, grilling, or pan-frying . There’s also the loin, which is all lean meat or all belly and perfect for sushi or sashimi at home. The steak cut is a cross-section of the salmon including the backbone. For halibut, you can cook this in tomato sauce or en papillote, i.e. in a parchment or foil packet. For scallops, you can simply pan fry this with browned butter and garlic or sage.

If all this is still too hard for you, just get two orders of the fasting-only fish and chips at McDonald’s! Or Burger King’s veggie burger. Or manong’s fishball sa kanto (on the street).

Of course, at the end of all this, we need to remember what fasting and abstinence are really about. It is not a fad or for dietary purposes. Pope Francis emphasized: “Fasting is not an old-fashioned devotion, but a powerful gesture to remind ourselves of what really matters and what is only momentary.”

And what really matters? You are supposed to realize this at the end of your fast. But in his Ash Wednesday sermon opening Lent, Pope Francis already gave us the answer: “Return to what is essential: that is the Lord.”

Cold storage. San Juan Branch: 216 Wilson Street, San Juan.

Landline 85717711 or 8706 6326. Also available in major supermarkets.


Philippine Catholics urged Friday to celebrate “no meat.”

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