Fall Harvest: Garlic

October 4, 2013 at 8:59 AM | Posted in spices and herbs, vegetables | 1 Comment
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Garlic is another produce item that we forget has a season; fresh garlic is at its plump, sweetest best in late summer and fall.

 

Bulbils

Bulbils

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. With a history of human use of over 7,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

 

 

Allium sativum is a bulbous plant. It grows up to 1.2 m (4 ft) in height. Its hardiness is USDA Zone 8. It produces hermaphrodite flowers. Pollination occurs by bees and other insects.

 

 

Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment.
The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal purposes. They have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
Other parts of the garlic plant are also edible. The leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are sometimes eaten. They are milder in flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. Immature garlic is sometimes pulled, rather like a scallion, and sold as “green garlic”. When green garlic is allowed to grow past the “scallion” stage, but not permitted to fully mature, it may produce a garlic “round”, a bulb like a boiling onion, but not separated into cloves like a mature bulb. Additionally, the immature flower stalks (scapes) of the hardneck and elephant types are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries.
Inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the “skin” and root cluster. The papery, protective layers of “skin” over various parts of the plant are generally discarded during preparation for most culinary uses, though in Korea immature whole heads are sometimes prepared with the tender skins intact. The root cluster attached to the basal plate of the bulb is the only part not typically considered palatable in any form.

String of garlic

String of garlic

Garlic is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including eastern Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavor varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger. The parchment-like skin is much like the skin of an onion, and is typically removed before using in raw or cooked form. An alternative is to cut the top off the bulb, coat the cloves by dribbling olive oil (or other oil-based seasoning) over them, and roast them in an oven. Garlic softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the (root) end of the bulb, or individually by squeezing one end of the clove. In Korea, heads of garlic are fermented at high temperature; the resulting product, called black garlic, is sweet and syrupy, and is now being sold in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
Garlic may be applied to different kinds of bread to create a variety of classic dishes, such as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé.

 

Garlic being crushed using a garlic press

Garlic being crushed using a garlic press

Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves. These infused oils are used to season all categories of vegetables, meats, breads and pasta.
In some cuisines, the young bulbs are pickled for three to six weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices. In eastern Europe, the shoots are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.
Lightly smoked garlic is becoming increasingly popular in British and European cuisine. It is particularly prized for stuffing poultry and game, and in soups and stews. In both these cases it is important to utilize the undiscarded skin, as much of the smoke flavor is situated there, rather than in the cloves themselves.
Immature scapes are tender and edible. They are also known as “garlic spears”, “stems”, or “tops”. Scapes generally have a milder taste than the cloves. They are often used in stir frying or braised like asparagus. Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables.
Mixing garlic with egg yolks and olive oil produces aioli. Garlic, oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia. Blending garlic, almond, oil, and soaked bread produces ajoblanco.
Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

 

 

 

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Seafood of the Week – Crayfish

October 1, 2013 at 8:11 AM | Posted in Ball Park Smoked Turkey Franks, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Northern kōura, Paranephrops planifrons

Northern kōura, Paranephrops planifrons

 

Crayfish – also called crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, or mudbugs – are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related; taxonomically, they are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. They breathe through feather-like gills and are found in bodies of water that do not freeze to the bottom. They are mostly found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species such as the invasive Procambarus clarkii are hardier. Crayfish feed on living and dead animals and plants.

 

 

The name “crayfish” comes from the Old French word escrevisse (Modern French écrevisse). The word has been modified to “crayfish” by association with “fish” (folk etymology). The largely American variant “crawfish” is similarly derived.
Some kinds of crayfish are known locally as lobsters, crawdads, mudbugs, and yabbies. In the Eastern United States, “crayfish” is more common in the north, while “crawdad” is heard more in central and southwestern regions, and “crawfish” further south, although there are considerable overlaps.
The study of crayfish is called astacology.

 

 

In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the term crayfish or cray generally refers to a saltwater spiny lobster, of the genus Jasus that is indigenous to much of southern Oceania, while the freshwater species are usually called yabby or kōura, from the indigenous Australian and Māori names for the animal respectively, or by other names specific to each species. An exception is the freshwater Murray crayfish, which belongs to the family Parastacidae and is found on Australia’s Murray River.
In Singapore, the term crayfish typically refers to Thenus orientalis, a seawater crustacean from the slipper lobster family. True crayfish are not native to Singapore, but are commonly found as pets, or as an invasive species (Cherax quadricarinatus) in the many water catchment areas, and are alternatively known as freshwater lobsters.

 

 

The body of a decapod crustacean, such as a crab, lobster, or prawn, is made up of twenty body segments grouped into two main body parts, the cephalothorax and the abdomen. Each segment may possess one pair of appendages, although in various groups these may be reduced or missing. On average, crayfish grow to 6.9 in. (17.5 centimeters) in in length, but some grow larger.

 

Astacidae Austropotamobius pallipes

There are three families of crayfish, two in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern-Hemisphere (Gondwana-distributed) family Parastacidae lives in South America, Madagascar and Australasia, and is distinguished by the lack of the first pair of pleopods. Of the other two families, members of the Astacidae live in western Eurasia and western North America and members of the family Cambaridae live in eastern Asia and eastern North America.
Madagascar has an endemic genus, Astacoides, containing seven species.
Europe is home to seven species of crayfish in the genera Astacus and Austropotamobius.
Cambaroides is native to Japan and eastern mainland Asia.

 

 

The greatest diversity of crayfish species is found in southeastern North America, with over 330 species in nine genera, all in the family Cambaridae. A further genus of astacid crayfish is found in the Pacific Northwest and the headwaters of some rivers east of the Continental Divide. Many crayfish are also found in lowland areas where the water is abundant in calcium, and oxygen rises from underground springs.
Crayfish were introduced purposely into a few Arizona reservoirs and other bodies of water decades ago, primarily as a food source for sport fish. They have since dispersed beyond those original sites.

 

 

Australasia has over 100 species in a dozen genera. Many of the better-known Australian crayfish are of the genus Cherax, and include the marron (now believed to be two species, Cherax tenuimanus and C. cainii), red-claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), common yabby (Cherax destructor) and western yabby (Cherax preissii). The marron are some of the largest crayfish in the world. They grow up to several pounds in size. C. tenuimanus is critically endangered, while other large Australasian crayfish are threatened or endangered.
Australia is home to the world’s two largest freshwater crayfish – the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish Astacopsis gouldi, which can achieve a mass of up to 11 lb (5 kilograms) and is found in the rivers of northern Tasmania, and the Murray crayfish Euastacus armatus, which can reach 4.4 LB (2 kilograms) and is found in much of the southern Murray-Darling basin.
The two species of Paranephrops are endemic to New Zealand, where they are known by the Māori name kōura.

 

Crawfish Boil

Crayfish are eaten worldwide. Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the body of a crayfish is edible. In most prepared dishes, such as soups, bisques and étouffées, only the tail portion is served. At crawfish boils or other meals where the entire body of the crayfish is presented, other portions, such as the claw meat, may be eaten. Like all crustaceans, crayfish are not kosher because they are aquatic animals that do not have both fins and scales. They are therefore not eaten by observant Jews.
As of 2005, Louisiana supplies 95% of the crayfish harvested in the US. In 1987, Louisiana produced 90% of the crayfish harvested in the world, 70% of which were consumed locally. In 2007, the Louisiana crawfish harvest was about 54,800 tons, almost all of it from aquaculture. About 70%–80% of crayfish produced in Louisiana are Procambarus clarkii (red swamp crawfish), with the remaining 20%–30% being Procambarus zonangulus (white river crawfish).

 

 

Crayfish are commonly sold and used as bait, either live or with only the tail meat, and are good at attracting channel catfish, largemouth bass, pike and muskellunge. Sometimes the claws are removed so that the crayfish don’t stop fish from biting the hook. Crayfish easily fall off the hook, so casting should be slow.
The result of using crayfish as bait has led to various ecological problems at times. According to a report prepared by Illinois State University, on the Fox River and Des Plaines River watershed, “The rusty crayfish (used as bait) has been dumped into the water and its survivors outcompete the native clearwater crayfish”. This situation has been repeated elsewhere, as the crayfish bait eliminates native species.
The use of crayfish as bait has been cited as one of the ways zebra mussels have spread to different waterways, as members of this invasive species are known to attach themselves to crayfish.

 

 

 

Fall Harvest: Apples

September 22, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Posted in fruits | 1 Comment
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A typical apple

A typical apple

 

Apples are one of those fruits people have forgotten have a season. But they do, and in the Northern Hemisphere they’re harvested late summer through fall.

 

 
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family (Rosaceae). It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apples grow on small, deciduous trees. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit’s genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6% of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seen to various proteins found in the fruit.

 

 

Apples are often eaten raw. The whole fruit including the skin is suitable for human consumption except for the seeds, which may affect some consumers. The core is often not eaten and is discarded. Varieties bred for raw consumption are termed dessert or table apples.
Apples can be canned or juiced. They are milled or pressed to produce apple juice, which may be drunk unfiltered (called apple cider in North America), or filtered. The juice can be fermented to make cider (called hard cider in North America), ciderkin, and vinegar. Through distillation, various alcoholic beverages can be produced, such as applejack, Calvados, and apfelwein. Apple seed oil and pectin may also be produced.

 

 

Different kinds of apple cultivars in a supermarket

Different kinds of apple cultivars in a supermarket

Apples are an important ingredient in many desserts, such as apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp and apple cake. They are often eaten baked or stewed, and they can also be dried and eaten or reconstituted (soaked in water, alcohol or some other liquid) for later use. Puréed apples are generally known as apple sauce. Apples are also made into apple butter and apple jelly. They are also used (cooked) in meat dishes.
In the UK, a toffee apple is a traditional confection made by coating an apple in hot toffee and allowing it to cool. Similar treats in the US are candy apples (coated in a hard shell of crystallized sugar syrup), and caramel apples, coated with cooled caramel.
Apples are eaten with honey at the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet new year.
Farms with apple orchards may open them to the public, so consumers may themselves pick the apples they will purchase.
Sliced apples turn brown with exposure to air due to the conversion of natural phenolic substances into melanin upon exposure to oxygen. Different cultivars vary in their propensity to brown after slicing. Sliced fruit can be treated with acidulated water to prevent this effect.

 

 

The proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”, addressing the health effects of the fruit, dates from 19th century Wales. Preliminary research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Apple peels contain ursolic acid which, in rat studies, increases skeletal muscle and brown fat, and decreases white fat, obesity, glucose intolerance, and fatty liver disease. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical apple serving weighs 242 grams and contains 126 calories with significant dietary fiber and vitamin C content.
Apple peels are a source of various phytochemicals with unknown nutritional value and possible antioxidant activity in vitro. The predominant phenolic phytochemicals in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2.
Apple juice concentrate has been found in mice to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Other studies have shown an “alleviation of oxidative damage and cognitive decline” in mice after the administration of apple juice. Fruit flies fed an apple extract lived 10% longer than other flies fed a normal diet.

 

 

 

Fish of the Week – Tilapia

August 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Posted in fish, Fish of the Week, tilapia | Leave a comment
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Fish of the Week – Tilapia

Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus

Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus

 

 
Tilapia (/tɨˈlɑːpiə/ ti-la-pee-ə) is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish, inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes, and less commonly found living in brackish water. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the Levant, and are of increasing importance in aquaculture and aquaponics. Tilapia can become problematic invasive species in new warm-water habitats, whether deliberately or accidentally introduced, but generally not in temperate climates due to their inability to survive in cooler waters below about 21 °C (70 °F).

 

 

Tilapia were one of the three main types of fish caught in Biblical times from the Sea of Galilee. At that time were called musht, or commonly now even “St. Peter’s fish“. The name “St. Peter’s fish” comes from the story in the Gospel of Matthew about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a coin in its mouth, though the passage does not name the fish. While the name also applies to Zeus faber, a marine fish not found in the area, a few tilapia species (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus and others) are found in the Sea of Galilee, where the author of the Gospel of Matthew accounts the event took place. These species have been the target of small-scale artisanal fisheries in the area for thousands of years.
The common name tilapia is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapia, which is itself a latinisation of thiape, the Tswana word for “fish”. Scottish zoologist Andrew Smith named the genus in 1840.

 

 

Tilapia typically have laterally compressed, deep bodies. Like other cichlids, their lower pharyngeal bones are fused into a single tooth-bearing structure. A complex set of muscles allows the upper and lower pharyngeal bones to be used as a second set of jaws for processing food, allowing a division of labor between the “true jaws” (mandibles) and the “pharyngeal jaws”. This means they are efficient feeders that can capture and process a wide variety of food items. Their mouths are protrusible, usually bordered with wide and often swollen lips. The jaws have conical teeth. Typically tilapia have a long dorsal fin, and a lateral line which often breaks towards the end of the dorsal fin, and starts again two or three rows of scales below.

 

 

Tilapia as a common name has been applied to various cichlids from three distinct genera: Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and Tilapia. The members of the other two genera used to belong to the genus Tilapia but have since been split off into their own genera. However, particular species within are still commonly called “tilapia” regardless of the change in their actual taxonomic nomenclature.
The delimitation of these genera among each other and to other tilapiines requires more research; mtDNA sequences are confounded because at least among the species of any one genus, there is frequent hybridization. The species remaining in Tilapia in particular still seem to be a paraphyletic assemblage.

 

 

The tilapiines of North Africa are the most important commercial cichlids. Fast-growing, tolerant of stocking density, and adaptable, tilapiine species have been introduced and farmed extensively in many parts of Asia and are increasingly common aquaculture targets elsewhere.

 

Red nile tilapia under the experiment (CLSU), Philippines)

Red nile tilapia under the experiment (CLSU), Philippines)

 

Farmed tilapia production is about 1,500,000 tonnes (1,500,000 long tons; 1,700,000 short tons) annually with an estimated value of US$1.8 billion, about equal to that of salmon and trout.
Unlike carnivorous fish, tilapia can feed on algae or any plant-based food. This reduces the cost of tilapia farming, reduces fishing pressure on prey species, avoids concentrating toxins that accumulate at higher levels of the food chain and makes tilapia the preferred “aquatic chickens” of the trade.
Because of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability, tilapiine cichlids are the focus of major farming efforts, specifically various species of Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia, collectively known colloquially as tilapia. Like other large fish, they are a good source of protein and popular among artisanal and commercial fisheries. Most such fisheries were originally found in Africa, but outdoor fish farms in tropical countries, such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Indonesia, are underway in freshwater lakes. In temperate zone localities, tilapiine farming operations require energy to warm the water to tropical temperatures. One method uses waste heat from factories and power stations.
China is the largest tilapia producer in the world, followed by Egypt.
In modern aquaculture, wild-type Nile tilapia are not too often seen, as the dark color of their flesh is not much desired by many customers, and because it has a bit of a reputation of being a trash fish associated with poverty. On the other hand, they are fast-growing and give good fillets; leucistic (“Red”) breeds which have lighter meat have been developed and these are very popular.
Hybrid stock is also used in aquaculture; Nile × blue tilapia hybrids are usually rather dark, but a light-colored hybrid breed known as “Rocky Mountain White” tilapia is often grown due to its very light flesh and tolerance of low temperatures.
Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Cultivators use hormones, such as testosterone, to reverse the sex of newly spawned females. Because tilapia are prolific breeders, the presence of female tilapia results in rapidly increasing populations of small fish, rather than a stable population of harvest-size animals.
Other methods of tilapia population control are polyculture, with predators farmed alongside tilapia or hybridization with other species.

 

Redbelly tilapia, Tilapia zilli ("St. Peter's fish) served in a Tiberias restaurant

Redbelly tilapia, Tilapia zilli (“St. Peter’s fish) served in a Tiberias restaurant

 

Whole tilapia fish can be processed into skinless, boneless (Pin-Bone Out, or PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30 percent to 37 percent, depending on fillet size and final trim. The use of tilapia in the commercial food industry has led to the virtual extinction of genetically pure bloodlines. Most wild tilapia today are hybrids of several species.

Tilapia have very low levels of mercury, as they are fast-growing, lean and short-lived, with a primarily vegetarian diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Feral tilapia, however, may accumulate substantial quantities of mercury. Tilapia are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good protein source. They also contain the micronutrients phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium.
However, typical farm-raised tilapia (the least expensive and most popular source) have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (the essential nutrient that is an important reason that dieticians recommend eating fish), and a relatively high proportion of omega-6. “Ratios of long-chain omega-6 to long-chain omega-3, AA to EPA, respectively, in tilapia averaged about 11:1, compared to much less than 1:1 (indicating more EPA than AA) in both salmon and trout,” reported a study published in July 2008. The report suggests the nutritional value of farm-raised tilapia may be compromised by the amount of corn included in the feed. The corn contains short-chain omega-6 fatty acids that contribute to the buildup of these materials in the fish.
The lower amounts of omega-3 and the higher ratios of omega-6 fats in US-farmed tilapia raised questions about the health benefits of consuming farmed tilapia fish. Some media reports even controversially suggested that farm-raised tilapia may be worse for the heart than eating bacon or a hamburger. This prompted the release of an open letter, signed by 16 science and health experts from around the world, that stated that both oily (i.e. high in omega-3 fatty acids) fish and lean fish like tilapia are an important part of the diet and concluded that “replacing tilapia or catfish with ‘bacon, hamburgers or doughnuts’ is absolutely not recommended.”
Multiple studies have evaluated the effects of adding flaxseed derivatives (a vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids) to the feed of farmed tilapia. These studies have found both the more common omega-3 fatty acid found in the flax, ALA and the two types almost unique to animal sources (DHA and EPA), increased in the fish fed this diet. Guided by these findings, tilapia farming techniques could be adjusted to address the nutritional criticisms directed at the fish while retaining its advantage as an omnivore capable of feeding on economically and environmentally inexpensive vegetable protein. Adequate diets for salmon and other carnivorous fish can alternatively be formulated from protein sources such as soybean, although soy-based diets may also change in the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
The US produced 1.5 million tons of tilapia in 2005, with 2.5 million projected by 2010.

 

 

Tilapia serve as a natural, biological control for most aquatic plant problems. Tilapia consume floating aquatic plants, such as duckweed watermeal (Lemna sp.), most “undesirable” submerged plants, and most forms of algae. In the United States and countries such as Thailand, they are becoming the plant control method of choice, reducing or eliminating the use of toxic chemicals and heavy metal-based algaecides.
Tilapia rarely compete with other “pond” fish for food. Instead, because they consume plants and nutrients unused by other fish species and substantially reduce oxygen-depleting detritus; adding tilapia often increases the population, size and health of other fish.
Arizona stocks tilapia in the canals that serve as the drinking water sources for the cities of Phoenix, Mesa and others. The fish help purify the water by consuming vegetation and detritus, greatly reducing purification costs.
Arkansas stocks many public ponds and lakes to help with vegetation control, favoring tilapia as a robust forage species and for anglers.
In Kenya, tilapia help control mosquitoes which carry malaria parasites. They consume mosquito larvae, which reduces the numbers of adult females, the disease’s vector.
Tilapia also provide an abundant food source for aquatic predators.

 

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

July 28, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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When shopping, only the term “Use by” means that you shouldn’t eat the food after the date indicated. “Sell by” dates are only an indication for the store, and foods will usually keep one to two weeks after. “Best before” is only an indication of food quality, not of food safety, so again, your perishables may still be good to eat.

Food Court Wars – Food Network Sunday Night at 10 pm EDT

July 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Posted in cooking | 3 Comments
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Food Court Wars Hosted by: Tyler Florencefood court wars

 

Food Court Wars pits two teams of aspiring food entrepreneurs against one another as they battle to win their own food court restaurant, rent-free for a year. Each week it’s a different U.S. city mall. The mall wants to open a brand-new “local” eatery in the food court that offers a fresh region-specific menu. Stakes are high as teams must test their concept, market their brand and run their outlet for a full day feeding hungry shoppers. The team whose restaurant makes the most profit wins their eatery space — a prize worth $100,000! The losing team must vacate the premises.

 

 

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food-court-wars/index.html?oc=linkback

One of America’s Favorites – Tapioca

June 24, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tapioca (Portuguese pronunciation: [tɐpiˈɔkɐ]) is a starch extracted from Manioc (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the

Cassava root

Cassava root

Northeast of Brazil but spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies, Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan, being now cultivated worldwide.
In Brazil, the plant (cassava) is named “mandioca”, while its starch is called “tapioca”. The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language, which was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil. This Tupí word refers to the process by which the starch is made edible. However, as the word moved out of Brazil it came to refer to similar preparations made with other esculents.
In the Philippines, tapioca is usually confused with sago, as the sap of the sago palm is often part of its preparation. In India, the term “tapioca” is used to represent the root of the plant (cassava), rather than the starch. In Vietnam, it is called bột năng. In Indonesia, it is called singkong. In Malaysia it is called “Ubi Kayu”. In Britain, the word tapioca often refers to a milk pudding thickened with arrowroot.
Tapioca is a staple food in some regions and is used worldwide as a thickening agent in various foods. It is considered a gluten-free food.

 

 
The cassava plant has either red or green branches with blue spindles on them. The root of the green-branched variant requires treatment to remove linamarin, a cyanogenic glycoside occurring naturally in the plant, which otherwise may be converted into cyanide. Konzo (also called mantakassa) is a paralytic disease associated with several weeks of almost exclusive consumption of insufficiently processed bitter cassava. The toxin found in the root of the red-branched variant is less harmful to humans than the green-branched variety. Therefore, the root of the red/purple-branched variant can be consumed directly.
In the North and Northeast of Brazil, traditional community based production of tapioca is a by-product of manioc flour production from cassava roots. In this process, the manioc (after treatment to remove toxicity) is ground to a pulp with a small hand- or diesel-powered mill. This masa is then squeezed to dry it out. The wet masa is placed in a long woven tube called a tipiti. The top of the tube is secured while a large branch or lever is inserted into a loop at the bottom and used to stretch the entire implement vertically, squeezing a starch-rich liquid out through the weave and ends. This liquid is collected and the water allowed to evaporate, leaving behind a fine-grained tapioca powder similar in appearance to corn starch.
Commercially, the starch is processed into several forms: hot soluble powder or meal or pre-cooked fine or coarse flakes, rectangular sticks, and spherical “pearls”. Pearls are the most widely available shape; sizes range from about 1 mm to 8 mm in diameter, with 2–3 mm being the most common.
Flakes, sticks, and pearls must be soaked well before cooking, in order to rehydrate, absorbing water up to twice their volume. After rehydration, tapioca products become leathery and swollen. Processed tapioca is usually white, but sticks and pearls may be colored. Since old times, the most common colour applyed to tapioca has been brown, but recently pastel colors have been available. Tapioca pearls are generally opaque when raw, but become translucent when cooked in boiling water.
Brazil in South America, Thailand in Asia, and Nigeria in Africa are the world’s largest producers of cassava. Currently, Thailand accounts for about 60% of worldwide exports.

 

 
While frequently associated with tapioca pudding, a dessert in the United States, tapioca is also used in other courses. Bubble tea is

Tapioca pudding

Tapioca pudding

gaining popularity in cities with large Asian populations. People on gluten-free diets can eat bread made with tapioca flour (although these individuals do have to be careful, as some tapioca flour has wheat added to it). Tapioca is also used as an ingredient in the Canadian Daiya brand cheese substitute.

 

 
A casabe is a thin flatbread made from bitter cassava root without leavening. It was originally produced by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas Arawak and Carib nations because these roots were a very common plant of the rain forests where they lived. In eastern Venezuela many Indigenous groups still make casabe and it remains their main bread-like food. Indigenous communities including the Ye-Kuana, Kari-Ña, Yanomami, Guarao or Warao are from either the Caribe or Arawac Nations and still make casabe.To make casabe, the starchy root of bitter cassava is ground to a pulp, then squeezed to expel a milky, bitter liquid called yare which carries the poisonous substances with it out of the pulp. Traditionally, this squeezing is done in a sebucan, an 8 to 12-foot (3.7 m) long tube-shaped pressure strainer woven in a characteristic helical pattern from palm leaves. The sebucan usually is hung from a tree branch or ceiling pole, and it has a closed bottom with a loop that is attached to a fixed stick or lever, which is used to stretch the sebucan. When the lever is pushed down, stretching the sebucan, the helical weaving pattern causes the strainer to squeeze the pulp inside. This is similar to the action of a Chinese finger trap. The pulp is then spread in thin, round cakes about 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter on a budare to roast or toast.

Thin and crisp cakes of casabe are often broken apart and eaten like crackers. Like bread, casabe can be eaten alone or with other dishes. Thicker casabe usually are eaten slightly moistened. Just a subtle sprinkle of a few drops of liquid is enough to transform a very dry casabe into a very soft and smooth bread very similar to the softest slice of a wheat bread loaf, an incredible change in texture. Because of its capacity to absorb liquid immediately, casabe may cause someone to choke, but goes down quickly with a sip of liquid.
In Guyana, the casabe is simply called cassava bread. It is prepared with an instrument called a matape by the natives of the Rupununi Savanah and other areas of the country that have a high concentration of Amerinidians. In Jamaica, it is called bammy.
In Brazil, the cassava flatbread is called beiju or tapioca.

 

 
Tapioca pearls are also known as boba in some cultures. It is produced by passing the moist starch through a sieve under pressure. Pearl tapioca is a common ingredient in Asian desserts such as kolak, in tapioca pudding, and in sweet drinks such as bubble tea, fruit slush and taho, where they provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness and texture of the drink. Small pearls are preferred for use in puddings; large pearls are preferred for use in drinks. These large pearls most often are brown, not white (and traditionally are used in black or green tea drinks), but are available in a wide variety of pastel colors. Not only are they used in the aforementioned drinks, they are also available as an option in shave ice and hot drinks. In addition to their use in puddings and beverages, a recent innovation has seen tapioca pearls baked inside of cakes.

 

 
Tapioca root can also be used to manufacture biodegradable plastic bags. A polymer resin produced from the plant is a viable plastic substitute that is not only biodegradable, but can be composted, is renewable, and is recyclable. The product reverts in less than one year, versus thousands of years for traditional plastics.

 

 
Tapioca predominantly consists of carbohydrates, with each cup containing 135 grams for a total of 544 calories, and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Folic acid (vitamin B9) is present in the amount of 6.1 mcg, along with iron 2.4 mg and calcium 30.4 mg. One cup of tapioca also includes 1.5 mg of omega-3 acids, 3 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and 1 gram of dietary fiber.

 

 

 
*Warning on Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls May Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals, German Study Claims

*Tapioca pearls in bubble tea contain carcinogens like polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs
After analyzing the tapioca balls which make up the ‘bubbles’ in the drink, researchers from the University Hospital Aachen, for instance, found that the pearls contained polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs such as styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances, chemicals that shouldn’t be in food at all, researchers told German paper The Local.

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/tapioca-pearls-bubble-tea-carcinogens-polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs-article-1.1148110#ixzz2X62nFo6N

 

 

 
Classic Tapioca Pudding
INGREDIENTS:
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten or 1/2 cup Egg Beater’s
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together the milk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 5 minutes longer.
2. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture back into the tapioca until well mixed. Bring the pudding to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer until the pudding becomes thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The pudding may be served hot or poured into serving dishes and refrigerated several hours until cold.

Fish of the Week – Catfish

March 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Posted in fish | 1 Comment
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Catfishes (order Siluriformes) are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s

The channel catfish has four pairs of barbels

The channel catfish has four pairs of barbels

whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the heaviest and longest, the Mekong giant catfish from Southeast Asia and the second longest, the wels catfish of Eurasia, to detritivores (species that eat dead material on the bottom), and even to a tiny parasitic species commonly called the candiru, Vandellia cirrhosa. There are armour-plated types and also naked types, neither having scales. Despite their name, not all catfish have prominent barbels; members of the Siluriformes order are defined by features of the skull and swimbladder. Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food. Many of the smaller species, particularly the genus Corydoras, are important in the aquarium hobby. Catfish are nocturnal.

 

Extant catfish species live inland or in coastal waters of every continent except Antarctica. Catfish have inhabited all continents at one time or another. Catfish are most diverse in tropical South America, Africa, and Asia. More than half of all catfish species live in the Americas. They are the only ostariophysans that have entered freshwater habitats in Madagascar, Australia, and New Guinea.
They are found in freshwater environments, though most inhabit shallow, running water. Representatives of at least eight families are hypogean (live underground) with three families that are also troglobitic (inhabiting caves). One such species is Phreatobius cisternarum, known to live underground in phreatic habitats. Numerous species from the families Ariidae and Plotosidae, and a few species from among the Aspredinidae and Bagridae, are found in salt water.
In the United States, catfish species may be known by a variety of slang names, just as mud cat, polliwogs, or chuckleheads. These nicknames are not standardized, so one area may call a Bullhead catfish by the nickname chucklehead, while in another state or region, that nickname refers to the Blue catfish.

 

Most catfish are bottom feeders. In general, they are negatively buoyant, which means that they will usually sink rather than float due to a reduced gas bladder and a heavy, bony head.[6] Catfish have a variety of body shapes, though most have a cylindrical body with a flattened ventrum to allow for benthic feeding.
A flattened head allows for digging through the substrate as well as perhaps serving as a hydrofoil. Most have a mouth that can expand to a large size and contains no incisiform teeth; catfish generally feed through suction or gulping rather than biting and cutting prey. However, some families, notably Loricariidae and Astroblepidae, have a suckermouth that allows them to fasten themselves to objects in fast-moving water. Catfish also have a maxilla reduced to a support for barbels; this means that they are unable to protrude their mouths as other fish such as carp.
Catfish may have up to four pairs of barbels: nasal, maxillary (on each side of mouth), and two pairs of chin barbels, even though pairs of barbels may be absent depending on the species. Catfish also have chemoreceptors across their entire bodies, which means they “taste” anything they touch and “smell” any chemicals in the water. “In catfish, gustation plays a primary role in the orientation and location of food”. Because their barbels and chemoreception are more important in detecting food, the eyes on catfish are generally small. Like other ostariophysans, they are characterized by the presence of a Weberian apparatus. Their well-developed Weberian apparatus and reduced gas bladder allow for improved hearing as well as sound production.
Catfish have no scales; their bodies are often naked. In some species, the mucus-covered skin is used in cutaneous respiration, where the fish breathes through its skin. In some catfish, the skin is covered in bony plates called scutes; some form of body armor appears in various ways within the order. In loricarioids and in the Asian genus Sisor, the armor is primarily made up of one or more rows of free dermal plates. Similar plates are found in large specimens of Lithodoras. These plates may be supported by vertebral processes, as in scoloplacids and in Sisor, but the processes never fuse to the plates or form any external armor. By contrast, in the subfamily Doumeinae (family Amphiliidae) and in hoplomyzontines (Aspredinidae), the armor is formed solely by expanded vertebral processes that form plates. Finally, the lateral armor of doradids, Sisor, and hoplomyzontines consists of hypertrophied lateral line ossicles with dorsal and ventral lamina.

All catfish, except members of Malapteruridae (electric catfish), possess a strong, hollow, bonified leading spine-like ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. As a defense, these spines may be locked into place so that they stick outwards, which can inflict severe wounds. In several species catfish can use these fin rays to deliver a stinging protein if the fish is irritated. This venom is produced by glandular cells in the epidermal tissue covering the spines. In members of the family Plotosidae, and of the genus Heteropneustes, this protein is so strong it may hospitalize humans, those unfortunate enough to receive a sting; in Plotosus lineatus, the stings may result in death.
Juvenile catfish, like most fish, have relatively large heads, eyes and posterior median fins in comparison to larger, more mature individuals. These juveniles can be readily placed in their families, particularly those with highly derived fin or body shapes; in some cases identification of the genus is possible. As far as known for most catfish, features that are often characteristic of species such as mouth and fin positions, fin shapes, and barbel lengths show little difference between juveniles and adults. For many species, pigmentation pattern is also similar in juveniles and adults. Thus, juvenile catfishes generally resemble and develop smoothly into their adult form without distinct juvenile specializations. Exceptions to this are the ariid catfishes, where the young retain yolk sacs late into juvenile stages, and many pimelodids, which may have elongated barbels and fin filaments or coloration patterns.
Sexual dimorphism is reported in about half of all families of catfish. The modification of the anal fin into an intromittent organ (in internal fertilizers) as well as accessory structures of the reproductive apparatus (in both internal and external fertilizers) have been described in species belonging to 11 different families.

 

Catfish have one of the greatest ranges in size within a single order of bony fish. Many catfish have a maximum length of under 12 cm. Some of the smallest species of Aspredinidae and Trichomycteridae reach sexual maturity at only 1 centimetre (0.39 in).
The wels catfish, Silurus glanis, is the only native catfish species of Europe, besides the much smaller related Aristotle’s catfish found in Greece. Mythology and literature record wels catfish of astounding proportions, yet to be proven scientifically. The average size of the species is about 1.2–1.6 m (3.9–5.2 ft), and fish more than 2 metres (6.6 ft) are very rare. The largest specimens on record measure more than 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length and sometimes exceeded 100 kilograms (220 lb).
The largest Ictalurus furcatus, caught in the Missouri River on July 20, 2010, weighed 130 pounds (59 kg). The largest flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, ever caught was in Independence, Kansas, weighing 123 lb 9 oz (56.0 kg). In July 2009, a catfish weighing 193 pounds was caught in the River Ebro, Spain, by an 11-year old British schoolgirl. However, these records pale in comparison to a giant Mekong catfish caught in northern Thailand on May 1, 2005 and reported to the press almost 2 months later that weighed 293 kilograms (650 lb). This is the largest giant Mekong catfish caught since Thai officials started keeping records in 1981. The giant Mekong catfish are not well studied since they live in developing countries and it is quite possible that they can grow even larger.

 

In many catfish, the humeral process is a bony process extending backward from the pectoral girdle immediately above the base of the pectoral fin. It lies beneath the skin where its outline may be determined by dissecting the skin or probing with a needle.
The retina of catfish are composed of single cones and large rods. Many catfish have a tapetum lucidum which may help enhance photon capture and increase low-light sensitivity. Double cones, though present in most teleosts, are absent from catfish.
The anatomical organization of the testis in catfish is variable among the families of catfish, but the majority of them present fringed testis: Ictaluridae, Claridae, Auchenipteridae, Doradidae, Pimelodidae, and Pseudopimelodidae. In the testes of some species of Siluriformes, organs and structures such as a spermatogenic cranial region and a secretory caudal region are observed, in addition to the presence of seminal vesicles in the caudal region. The total number of fringes and their length are different in the caudal and cranial portions between species. Fringes of the caudal region may present tubules, in which the lumen is filled by secretion and spermatozoa. Spermatocysts are formed from cytoplasmic extensions of Sertoli cells; the release of spermatozoa is allowed by breaking of the cyst walls.
The occurrence of seminal vesicles, in spite of their interspecific variability in size, gross morphology and function, has not been related to the mode of fertilization. They are typically paired, multi-chambered, and connected with the sperm duct, and have been reported to play a glandular and a storage function. Seminal vesicle secretion may include steroids and steroid glucuronides, with hormonal and pheromonal functions, but it appears to be primarily constituted of mucoproteins, acid mucopolysaccharides, and phospholipids.
Fish ovaries may be of two types: gymnovarian or cystovarian. In the first type, the oocytes are released directly into the coelomic cavity and then eliminated. In the second type, the oocytes are conveyed to the exterior through the oviduct. Many catfish are cystovarian in type, including Pseudoplatystoma corruscans, P. fasciatum, Lophiosilurus alexandri, and Loricaria lentiginosa.

 

Catfish have widely been caught and farmed for food for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Judgments as

Tuscaloosa Catfish served with corn bread and rice

Tuscaloosa Catfish served with corn bread and rice

to the quality and flavor vary, with some food critics considering catfish as being excellent food, while others dismiss them as watery and lacking in flavor. In Central Europe, catfish were often viewed as a delicacy to be enjoyed on feast days and holidays. Migrants from Europe and Africa to the United States brought along this tradition, and in the Southern United States, catfish is an extremely popular food. The most commonly eaten species in the United States are the channel catfish and the blue catfish, both of which are common in the wild and increasingly widely farmed. Farm-raised catfish became such a staple of the diet of the United States that on June 25, 1987, President Ronald Reagan established National Catfish Day to recognize “the value of farm-raised catfish.”
Catfish is eaten in a variety of ways. In Europe it is often cooked in similar ways to carp, but in the United States it is popularly crumbed with cornmeal and fried.
In Indonesia, catfish is usually served grilled in street stalls called warung and eaten with vegetables and soy sauce; the dish is called pecel lele. Catfish can also be eaten with chili sambal as lele penyet (minced catfish). (Lele is the Indonesian word for catfish.)
In Malaysia catfish, called “ikan keli”, is fried with spices or grilled and eaten with tamarind and Thai chillies gravy and also is often eaten with steamed rice.
In Bangladesh and the Indian states of Odisha, West Bengal and Assam catfish (locally known as Magur) is eaten as a favored delicacy during the monsoons. Catfish, locally known as thedu or etta in Malayalam, is very famous in the Indian state Kerala. In the inland ponds in Kerala, 2 varieties of catfish is abundant- Muzhi and Kari while “Etta” is a basically a salt water fish. The smaller, slender Kari is notorious for its ability to sting, and Muzhi is much bigger and easy to catch, especially during Monsoon when this seems to literally walk where very little water is present from the rain water. All the catfish are eaten as curry and their extra-large eggs, especially that of Etta, is fried and is a delicacy. It is also believed that catfish meat helps in blood purification. Catfish curry is consumed in these parts to promote faster recovery to patients suffering from fever or other ailments.
In Hungary catfish is often cooked in paprika sauce (Harcsapaprikás) typical of Hungarian cuisine. It is traditionally served with pasta smothered with curd cheese (túrós csusza).
Catfish is high in Vitamin D. Farm-raised catfish contains low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a much higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids.
Vietnamese catfish cannot be legally marketed as catfish in the United States, and is subsequently referred to as swai or basa Only fish of the family Ictaluridae may be marketed as catfish in the United States.
As catfish lack scales, they are judged not to be kosher and may not be eaten by observant Jews, some Christians who follow the Torah’s food restrictions, and observant Muslims of various schools.

 

Catfish are easy to farm in warm climates, leading to inexpensive and safe food at local grocers. About 60% of U.S. farm-raised catfish are grown within a 65-mile (100-km) radius of Belzoni, Mississippi. Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) supports a $450 million/yr aquaculture industry.
Catfish raised in inland tanks or channels are considered safe for the environment, since their waste and disease should be contained and not spread to the wild.
In Asia, many catfish species are important as food. Several walking catfish (Clariidae) and shark catfish (Pangasiidae) species are heavily cultured in Africa and Asia. Exports of one particular shark catfish species from Vietnam, Pangasius bocourti, has met with pressures from the U.S. catfish industry. In 2003, The United States Congress passed a law preventing the imported fish from being labeled as catfish. As a result, the Vietnamese exporters of this fish now label their products sold in the U.S. as “basa fish.” Trader Joe’s has labeled frozen fillets of Vietnamese Pangasius hypophthalmus as “striper.”
There is a large and growing ornamental fish trade, with hundreds of species of catfish, such as Corydoras and armored suckermouth catfish (often called plecos), being a popular component of many aquaria. Other catfish commonly found in the aquarium trade are banjo catfish, talking catfish, and long-whiskered catfish.

 

Representatives of the genus Ictalurus have been introduced into European waters in the hope of obtaining a sporting and food resource. However, the European stock of American catfishes has not achieved the dimensions of these fish in their native waters, and have only increased the ecological pressure on native European fauna. Walking catfish have also been introduced in the freshwaters of Florida, with the voracious catfish becoming a major alien pest there. Flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, is also a North American pest on Atlantic slope drainages. Pterygoplichthys species, released by aquarium fishkeepers, have also established feral populations in many warm waters around the world.

 

While the vast majority of catfish are harmless to humans, a few species are known to present some risk. Perhaps the most notorious of these is the candiru, due to the way it is reputed to parasitize the urethra, though there is only one documented case of a candiru attack on a human.
Since 2007, the Goonch catfish has also gained attention following a series of fatal underwater attacks which have been alleged by biologist Jeremy Wade to have been from unusually large goonch.
The Wels catfish has also been reputed to kill humans (especially young children), and while there are no documented cases of fatalities, larger specimens are known to cause serious injuries in rare instances. In addition, other species are reputed to be dangerous to humans as well, but with less definitive evidence.
Many catfish species have “stings” (actually non-venomous in most cases) embedded behind their fins; thus precautions must be taken when handling them.

Food·ie – a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads

January 4, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Posted in Food | 1 Comment
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Food·ie noun, Webster Dictionary – a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads

 

Well it’s time to fess up, I’m a Foodie! So it’s time to come out and say it, a Foodie. I had heard the term Foodie but never knew the Foodsexact meaning. My self I think it’s anyone who enjoys not only eating but also cooking. Below is what I found out about being a Foodie.

 

 

Foodie is a term that we throw around a lot here at Slashfood. The dictionary defines a foodie as “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” In previous decades, words like “epicure” or “gourmet” were used to apply to the same type of person. The words are out of favor now, and bring to mind stodgy, snobbish people who are only willing to consider a restaurant that has truffled pate on the menu. This is because good food was hard to get and expensive in years, decades and centuries past. People didn’t have the resources to buy virtually anything they could want and often wouldn’t have the means to cook it. Now, both times and terms have changed.
Anyone can be a foodie.

 

 
To be a foodie is not only to like food, but to be interested in it. Just as a good student will have a thirst for knowledge, a foodie wants toFood11 learn about food. A foodie will never answer the question “What are you eating” with “I don’t know.” There are some basic traits of being a foodie, as there are basic traits that come with all labels. Generally, you have to know what you like, why you like it, recognize why some foods are better than others and want to have good tasting food all or certainly most of the time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat flaming hot Cheetos every now and again, but it does mean that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s a nutritionally balanced meal. Do you have to know the difference between a beefsteak tomato and an heirloom tomato? No, but you might be interested to find out what it is. Do you have to only shop at farmer’s markets? No, but you still look for good, fresh produce. Are there some foods you just don’t like or weird foods you like? That’s ok – it doesn’t make you any less of a foodie. Just like food, learn about food and, most importantly, eat food.

Seafood (Fish)

April 5, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Posted in baking, diabetes, diabetes friendly, fish, Food, grilling, low calorie, low carb, seafood | 4 Comments
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Seafood is any form of marine life regarded as food by humans. Seafoods include fish, molluscs (octopus and shellfish), crustaceans

Fried fish and French fries in San Diego

(shrimp and lobster), echinoderms (sea cucumber and sea urchins). Edible sea plants, such as some seaweeds and microalgae, are also seafood, and are widely eaten around the world, especially in Asia (see the category of sea vegetables). In North America, although not generally in the United Kingdom, the term “seafood” is also applied also to fresh water organisms eaten by humans, so all edible aquatic life may be referred to as seafood.

The harvesting of wild seafood is known as fishing and the cultivation and farming of seafood is known as aquaculture, mariculture, or in the case of fish, fish farming. Seafood is often distinguished from meat, although it is still animal and is excluded in a strict vegetarian diet. Seafood is an important source of protein in many diets around the world, especially in coastal areas.

There are over 32,000 species of fish, making them the most diverse group of vertebrates. However, only a small number of species are commonly eaten as food fish.

The principal food fish species groups are:

Anchovy                                                Carp                                                  Catfish
Cod                                                          Eel                                                     Haddock
Halibut                                                  Herring                                            Mackerel
Salmon                                                  Sardine                                           Scad
Snapper                                               Tilapia                                               Trout
Tuna

Fish is a highly perishable product. The fishy smell of dead fish is due to the breakdown of amino acids into biogenic amines and ammonia.

Live food fish are often transported in tanks at high expense for an international market that prefers its seafood killed immediately before it is cooked. This process originally was started by Lindeye. Delivery of live fish without water is also being explored. While some seafood restaurants keep live fish in aquaria for display purposes or for cultural beliefs, the majority of live fish are kept for dining customers. The live food fish trade in Hong Kong, for example, is estimated to have driven imports of live food fish to more than 15,000 tonnes in 2000. Worldwide sales that year were estimated at US$400 million, according to the World Resources Institute.

If the cool chain has not been adhered to correctly, food products generally decay and become harmful before the validity date printed on the package. As the potential harm for a consumer when eating rotten fish is much larger than for example with dairy products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced regulation in the USA requiring the use of a time temperature indicator on certain fresh chilled seafood products.

Fresh fish is a highly perishable food product, so it must be eaten promptly or discarded; it can be kept for only a short time. In many

Fish at an Asian supermarket in Virginia, USA.

countries, fresh fish are filleted and displayed for sale on a bed of crushed ice or refrigerated. Fresh fish is most commonly found near bodies of water, but the advent of refrigerated train and truck transportation has made fresh fish more widely available inland.

Long term preservation of fish is accomplished in a variety of ways. The oldest and still most widely used techniques are drying and salting. Desiccation (complete drying) is commonly used to preserve fish such as cod. Partial drying and salting is popular for the preservation of fish like herring and mackerel. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring are cooked and canned. Most fish are filleted prior to canning, but some small fish (e.g. sardines) are only decapitated and gutted prior to canning.

Seafood is consumed all over the world; it provides the world’s prime source of high-quality protein: 14–16% of the animal protein consumed world-wide; over one billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein. Fish is among the most common food allergens.

Iceland, Japan, and Portugal are the greatest consumers of seafood per capita in the world.

The UK Food Standards Agency recommends that at least two portions of seafood should be consumed each week, one of which should be oil-rich. There are over 100 different types of seafood available around the coast of the UK.

Oil-rich fish such as mackerel or herring are rich in long chain Omega-3 oils. These oils are found in every cell of the human body, and are required for human biological functions such as brain functionality.

Whitefish such as haddock and cod are very low in fat and calories which, combined with oily fish rich in Omega-3 such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and trout, can help to protect against coronary heart disease, as well as helping to develop strong bones and teeth.

Shellfish are particularly rich in zinc, which is essential for healthy skin and muscles as well as fertility. Casanova reputedly ate 50 oysters a day.

Health benefits

Research over the past few decades has shown that the nutrients and minerals in seafood can make improvements in brain development and reproduction and has highlighted the role for seafood in the functionality of the human body.
Heart

Doctors have known of strong links between fish and healthy hearts ever since they noticed that fish-eating Inuit populations in the Arctic had low levels of heart disease. One study has suggested that adding one portion of fish a week to your diet can cut your chances of suffering a heart attack by half.

Fish is thought to protect the heart because eating less saturated fat and more Omega-3 can help to lower the amount of cholesterol

Pan-fried fish

and triglycerides in the blood – two fats that, in excess, increase the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fats also have natural built-in anti-oxidants, which are thought to stop the thickening and damaging of artery walls.

Regularly eating fish oils is also thought to reduce the risk of arrhythmia – irregular electrical activity in the heart which increases the risk of sudden heart attacks.
Brain

10-12% of the human brain is composed of lipids, including the Omega-3 fat DHA. Recent studies suggest that older people can boost their brain power by eating more oily fish, what with regular consumers being able to remember better and think faster than those who don’t consume at all. Other research has also suggested that adding more DHA to the diet of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can reduce their behavioural problems and improve their reading skills, while there have also been links suggested between DHA and better concentration. Separate studies have suggested that older people who eat fish at least once a week could also have a lower chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Joints

Including fish as a regular part of a balanced diet has been shown to help the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – a painful condition that causes joints to swell up, reducing strength and mobility. Studies also show that sufferers feel less stiff and sore in the morning if they keep their fish oil intake topped up.

Recent research has also found a link between Omega-3 fats and a slowing down in the wearing of cartilage that leads to osteoarthritis, opening the door for more research into whether eating more fish could help prevent the disease.
Minerals

Fish is high in minerals such as zinc, iodine and selenium, which keep the body running smoothly. Iodine is essential for the thyroid gland, which controls growth and metabolism, while selenium is used to make enzymes that protect cell walls from cancer-causing free radicals, and helps prevent DNA damage caused by radiation and some chemicals.
Vitamins

Fish is also a source of vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin and eyes, and vitamin D, which is needed to help the body absorb calcium to strengthen teeth and bones.

Fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to concentrate mercury in their bodies, often in the form of methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound of mercury. Species of fish that are high on the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, and tilefish contain higher concentrations of mercury than others. This is because mercury is stored in the muscle tissues of fish, and when a predatory fish eats another fish, it assumes the entire body burden of mercury in the consumed fish. Since fish are less efficient at depurating than accumulating methylmercury, fish-tissue concentrations increase over time. Thus species that are high on the food chain amass body burdens of mercury that can be ten times higher than the species they consume. This process is called biomagnification. The first occurrence of widespread mercury poisoning in humans occurred this way in Minamata, Japan, now called Minamata disease.

Research into population trends of various species of seafood is pointing to a global collapse of seafood species by 2048. Such a collapse would occur due to pollution and overfishing, threatening oceanic ecosystems, according to some researchers.

A major international scientific study released in November 2006 in the journal Science found that about one-third of all fishing stocks worldwide have collapsed (with a collapse being defined as a decline to less than 10% of their maximum observed abundance), and that if current trends continue all fish stocks worldwide will collapse within fifty years. In July 2009, Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, the author of the November 2006 study in Science, co-authored an update on the state of the world’s fisheries with one of the original study’s critics, Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington at Seattle. The new study found that through good fisheries management techniques even depleted fish stocks can be revived and made commercially viable again.

The FAO State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2004 report estimates that in 2003, of the main fish stocks or groups of resources for which assessment information is available, “approximately one-quarter were overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion (16%, 7% and 1% respectively) and needed rebuilding.”

The National Fisheries Institute, a trade advocacy group representing the United States seafood industry, disagree. They claim that currently observed declines in fish population are due to natural fluctuations and that enhanced technologies will eventually alleviate whatever impact humanity is having on oceanic life.

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