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Healthy Fish Salad

I stepped on the scale a few weeks ago and realized how much weight I've put on. Started working on losing that weight again by replacing my normal meals with healthier versions. One of the biggest tricks I use is turning things into salads. Some things are easy (Cheeseburger salad is surprisingly delicious) but I'm having troubles with a few of the things in the freezer. Namely we have quite a bit of frozen pollock and tilapia. I was thinking of trying to go for something with an oriental twist but I'm having troubles pulling it all together.

Do you have any ideas for ways to make an actual salad (lettuce, etc, with a dressing) out of lower quality fish?

Also, do you have any ideas for interesting and unique salads overall?

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  1. Be careful, salads are not as low calorie as you may think. In fact, they can be more caloric than a balanced meal (protein and veg).

    7 Replies
    1. re: treb

      I agree. Salads are not necessarily low calorie.

      1. re: treb


        Do you mean because of the salad dressing? I measure mine to 1 tablespoon and don't add any extra mayonaise-y type food in it. I mostly use red leaf lettuce, tomato, cukes, sliced fresh pears, 1/2 avocado and toss in some roasted broccoli or cauliflower.

        I hope it's low cal, because it tastes it. :)

        1. re: mcel215

          Creamy dressings or vinaigrettes that are oil-laden can take a salad's calorie count off the charts. Add to that cheese, oily croutons, olives, bacon, fried fish, chicken, seafood or other meat, nuts, seeds, eggs, avocado, fried noodles and the like and a salad can become the worst choice on a menu. Granted, some calorie and fat-rich items are very healthy. Those should be included in small quantities (i.e. nuts, seeds, avocado, fish high in omega-3's, egg, olives).

          To the original poster, I'd recommend an Asian-inspired dressing made with miso paste, grated ginger, rice vinegar, lemon, orange or lime juice and zest, garlic or green onions (or both!), a bit of roasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way) and cayenne or other hot pepper (helps boost the metabolism). This is a tasty dressing that doesn't need a lot of oil. Tilapia and pollock are very mild. A punchy dressing will help liven them up. How you cook the fish is up to you. You can bake, grill, poach, steam, whatever. Lightly steam some snow or snap peas, asparagus and other spring vegetables. Include sprouts if you have some. Consider adding a single tangle of cellophane noodles (very low in calories) that you've soaked, cut into short lengths and cooked for a minute in boiling water and drained. The rest of your salad should be a mix of any raw or lightly steamed veggies, plus greens. Top with a few roasted nuts, seeds or chickpeas and you have a very tasty salad that is a balanced and nutritious meal.

          mcel, your salad sounds fine.

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            Restaurant salads are usually drenched in dressing and are made even worse with croutons, fried noodles and breaded chicken.

            If measured properly dressing shouldn't be a problem at home. Also, some vitamins are only fat soluble so some oil is good anyway.

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              Thanks sweetpea,

              You've got some great ideas here. :)


            2. re: mcel215

              Certain salad dressings can be a disaster, also croutons, bacon bits, added protein like grilled chic, shrimp and beef. Looks like you're very conservative.

          2. Soup is easier than salad with less expensive fish, for me. I can make a good fish chowder from commercial packs of cod, although I don't like the fish at all when cooked other ways. Your pollock would work as well.

            For salad, salade Ni├žoise is always a good choice. Usually it is made with tuna, but lately I have been making a variation with smoked sockeye salmon. I wouldn't use pollock or tilapia for this.

            1. I make squid salad, which I'm sure you could do with poached or grilled fish. Dressing: lime juice or rice vinegar, ginger, soy sauce or fish sauce, safflower oil, toasted sesame seeds or a little sesame oil. Vegetables: thinly sliced red onion, carrot, celery, radish and some kind of leaf - watercress is my favorite. Plus chopped cilantro and/or mint if you have it.

              1. I absolutely love this salad:
                Although it, made with shrimp, I'm sure you could just saute and chunk one of your tilapia filets and top the salad part with that.

                1. Why not just cook the fish, and serve a side salad (or other vegetables)? Is there a reason why it must be a "fish salad?"

                  1. I enjoy using recipes Fish Without Doubt by Moonen and Finamore.

                    COTM july 2009, july 2012

                    There r many good recipes to follow
                    I especially enjoy the tuna salad-I am sure u can use other fish

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jpr54_1

                      I was advised by a couple of CH-friends that if I don't have access to a variety of good fish, they wouldn't recommend the book. I don't so I didn't :(

                      1. re: jpr54_1

                        I am a fish lover and fortunately have great access to fresh-ish fish and have been eye-ing this book but have heard mixed review. It seems you like it though?

                      2. I really like small h's idea. How about a ceviche?

                        1. I saw a fish salad prepared on one of Lidia Bastianich's shows that was simple and looked delicious, but I haven't made it yet:


                          Though I could have sworn she put tomatoes in it, too.

                          1. I often throw salads together for lunch using leave lettuce as a base, adding leftover vegetables (raw or cooked), some type of additional carb source such as some rice, pasta, quinoa, etc., and then some protein source, which is sometimes fish. To that I'll add fruit (often grapes or apple slices, sometimes orange segments), and then whatever seeds or nuts may be in the house. The dressing is almost always a house-made vinaigrette. The result is something that is almost always different from day to day, can easily accomodate varying tastes, doesn't need a specific shopping list, is healthy and low fat, and tastes great. Another bonus is that if I know I'll be short on time in the morning, I'll prepare it the night before and put the dressing in a small container and bring it with me for lunch at work. It's also a great way to use of leftovers.

                            1. Are you eating carbs at all? I made a lovely nicoise salad recently with seared tuna, could easily be made with the other fishes. A nice peppercorn crust works well for lesser quality fish. Serve with boiled potatoes (or roasted, add sweet potatoes for extra interest), lots of blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion and lettuce. Make a vinaigrette out of lemon, olive oil, vinegar, capers and garlic and lightly dress. Very satisfying and different.

                              On another note this is one of my all time favourite salads in the summer, not sure where you are, if beans are not decent from Mexico yet then asparagus works well. You can cut back on the hazelnuts and make the dressing with milk instead of cream. I think that a baked fish would be lovely on top. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                              to go Asian, I love slaws, but find that they need a bit more dressing unfortunately. What about blanching asparagus, then lightly saute with soy and some spice. use 5 spice on your fish and bake or saute then toss together, maybe with some shredded cabbage. Make a dressing of rice wine vinegar, oil, soy, ginger etc.

                              1. Marinate and grill the fish. Lay over a nice fresh bed of greens. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with a nice lemony vinaigrette.

                                1. I love fish in salads. A few favorites

                                  Spinach with any combination of veggies and homemade vinaigrette (Balsamic, Asian style with sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, red wine and dijon, cilantro lime). I love vinegar and so use very little oil out of preference for a pretty hefty salad. My favorite fish for this though any meat will work is scallops, although I will often use crab, lobster, shrimp, cod, tuna, salmon - cook it simply seared or steamed, chop it up and throw it on top

                                  A favorite Asian style salad is the Copycat Homemade Panera Asian Sesame Salad - I can't get enough of it! Here is a link to a good recipe which pretty much nails the dressing flavor http://iowagirleats.com/2012/02/06/pa.... You can mix up the proportions as you want but it was delicious and light. I usually do 1/2 Romaine and 1/2 lightly wilted cabbage and skip most of the toppings.

                                  Another new favorite is the Whole Foods Garlicky Kale salad http://makingstuffanddoingthings.blog... which you can add any veggies or protein you like.

                                  Greens with mustard - I love mustard and will often eat salad with plain ol straight up mustard as the dressing

                                  Salad combinations are endless and fish is a great topper.

                                  1. Another idea is a Mexican or southwestern salad, like a grilled fish taco without the tortilla. Lots of shredded cabbage, any or all of grated carrot, cilantro, red pepper, tomato, radish, pinto or black beans, mango, red onion (pickled or plain), jalapeno. Avocado and/or cheese and/or pepitas in moderation. For salad dressing, use salsa or taco sauce + light sour cream or nonfat yogurt.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sweethooch

                                      Oh yes, I make taco salads all the time with a variety of meats and never use dressing - salsa usually works.

                                    2. Pollock and tilapia are mild enough that you can go in many directions. I make Middle Eastern spicy fish (samke harra) often by coating whitefish in cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper, white pepper and chili flakes. Bake or fry until cooked through and serve on salad greens with pickled onions, walnuts, parsley, pomegranate seeds and a lemony tahini dressing.

                                      Miso glazed fish would also lend itself to a salad with miso ginger dressing.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        Do you have a good recipe for miso glazed fish? I bought some white miso last week in hopes of miso fish but then didn't know what to do with it.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          A simple base is 2 parts miso : 1 part sake : 1 part mirin. If you want to go in a sweet direction, add some brown sugar, maple syrup or honey. If you want it more savory, omit the mirin and add soy sauce and a little sesame oil, but include some sweetener to balance out the salt.

                                          Others have posted their recs here: