Friday, 24 April 2015

All about Fish - Part 1


So cliché. Just because I'm talking about fish today, I go all nautical with my lingo.
Embracing the sea vibes you see, hah!

This was a picture I took years ago in Perth. I can still remember strolling by the lake.

Bubs was introduced to fish when he was about 10 months old. After a little research, I found out that fish is safe for babies to consume at 9-10 months of age, but a number of studies now say it's good to introduce at 6-7 months. I personally felt like it was too soon for Bubs at 6-7 months. I'm no nutritionist but I do take 'some' advice from Bubs pediatrician, however, I follow my instincts and Bubs cue. 
I was curious too see how he would react to the taste of fish, so I kept his meal simple. Plain oats with a little bit of broccoli and blanched fish. It was too fishy for me but Bubs went for it!
Today, approaching his 14th month, the boy loves his fish. It was even one of his first words (I say one of his first words because I can't remember which came first, either fish, car, or bubbles, haha!). Side note, I'd like to add that a few days ago he said 'eyes' (23rd April) and 'dog' ( 24th April)!!! Tee hee, stoked Mama is writing this for her own reference. 

Fish was the first type of meat Bubs ate. I'm not sure what I would classify fish as because its flesh from an animal but we usually refer meat to beef, pork, chicken or some sort of mammal flesh. Anyhow, I won't go much into categorizing cause I'm sure this post will drift to a whole different direction. 

Why fish? 
For the simple reason that it is a complete protein source (contains all 9 amino acids that our bodies need but can't produce) high in good fatty acids - Omega 3, and Vitamin D. These nutrients are crucial for a developing brain and nervous system. It is advisable even for us mothers to take fish oil during pregnancy and while lactating.

Such an amazing gift from mother nature yes? We humans just had to pollute the waters resulting mercury in them. Yes mercury exist naturally, for example from volcanic eruptions and forest fires, but we make it worse by emitting mercury from industrial wastes, power plants emissions, you get the idea. Fishes with high mercury are so toxic, it has the ability to impair brain development. Therefore I feel it is wise to be aware of the types of fish our little ones can consume. 
Definitely gave me a headache this one, first I worry about mercury levels, then I worry about the use of formalin (liquid form of formaldehyde) on fishes to keep them fresh in wet markets and the unsettling games your brain plays in your head on the freshness of frozen fish. 
What, when, where. Howwww??!

We can educate ourselves on the types of fish that are high or low in mercury. Various sources are available online. For example, these fishes are a big no no to Bubs due to high level of mercury;
1. King Mackerel        
2. Shark (Ikan Yu, honestly even I don't eat them, especially shark fin soup)
3. Tuna
4. Swordfish
5. Barramundi
In general, most large or predatory fishes are high in mercury. It makes sense to me, because the longer the fish stays in the water, the more mercury in absorbs. Plus fishes that eat smaller fishes accumulates more mercury.

Whereas, these are types of fish with low mercury levels that Bubs has consumed;
1. Threadfin (Ikan Kurau)
2. Fourfinger Threadfin (Ikan Senangin)
3. Salmon
4. Cod 
5. Pomfret (Ikan Bawal)

Fourfinger Threadfin (Senangin)
*Photo credit:

Pomfret (Bawal)
*Photo credit:
Other examples of low mercury fishes that Bubs have not tried are as follows;
1. Indian Mackerel (Mabong)
2. Tilapia
3. Terubok (that is the Malay name)
4. Anchovies

Indian Mackerel (Mabong)
*Photo credit:
I used to think that buying fish from the wet market is the best, until I googled fish preservation. I discovered, a little too late, that most wet markets use formalin to maintain the freshness of the fish. Apparently to tell if it contains formalin, the fish will smell and break apart during frying. These chemicals should be banned, its carcinogenic even. Sigh. I'm hoping that all of us will have that trusted fishmonger or...let's just all move to an island.

Ever since I started cooking at home, visits to the local market every week was a norm. Though I'm not very good at spotting fresh produce yet, I am learning, heh. If you are a newbie in the wet market like me, here are some tips on selecting fresh fish;
1. Bright, bulging eyes
2. Red gills, (Not brick red. If it's too slimy, could be a sign of excessive formalin)
3. Firm and elastic flesh
4. Scales should be close to each other (Not dried out or ruffled)
5. I know fish smells BUT it shouldn't stink. It should only smell like seawater, seaweed, anything sea-like.
With regards to frozen fish, look out for ice crystals in the packaging. This indicates moisture loss, not a good thing as its probably a result of thawing and refreezing.

I'd love to share with you on cleaning a fish, but I don't know how to, haha! My dear fishmonger does it for me, I even ask them to fillet it for Bubs. 
That shall be my next project to share with you, with my chopping board and loadsa lemon juice after.

I hope my post will be of some help for many of us newbies in the kitchen, whether or not you are a mum. 
You are always welcome to share your thoughts and views, I'd appreciate it actually. We all learn something new everyday.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Kisses of cool sea breeze from That Skinny Elephant.

* is an online fish market. They delivery fresh fish to those living in Penang, Malaysia.

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