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Fish for Memory

Island Epicure

It is said that people who eat fish at least once a week lose their memories 10% more slowly than people who avoid fish, and that people who eat seafood twice a week lose their memories 13% more slowly than people who never eat seafood.  Diners in Spain and Japan must have the most fabulous memories in the world.  Some decades ago when my husband, our two sons, and I spent a month in Spain, eating out all the time, every lunch and every dinner plate contained a small piece of fish and a small piece of meat.  

In Japan proper and on Okinawa, every meal contained something from the  land and something from the sea.  The something from the land was always rice, plus side dishes of  leaves of the soybean plant, an occasional gingko nut, taro, and/or a white sweet potato. Fish was the staple protein. On Okinawa, even dessert might be something from the sea, such as shredded kelp in  sweet pineapple juice. Okinawans are among the longest lived people in the world.  

The paella we ate in Seville, Spain, began with a layer of cooked rice. Topping  the rice were pieces of white chicken meat, slices of bell pepper, green peas, and small clams in their shells. The paella we ate for dinner last night here at chez Watkins also contained “something from the land and something from the sea”. On the traditional bed of rice, in this case cooked with saffron that turned the grains yellow, were large shrimp, small mussels, and calimari rings. It was delicious and filling and required nothing but a green salad to complete the meal. Saffron is not necessary, nor traditional. It just looks cheerful.

4 servings

1 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons light olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, sliced and seeds and pith removed
1 scant teaspoon dried crumbled oregano leaf
1 cup diced cooked chicken white meat
12 small clams in their well-scrubbed shells   
8 frozen large shrimp
¼ cup frozen green peas

Cook the rice in the chicken broth. While it cooks, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the peas. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and stir-fry the onion. Add the rice. Top it with the bell pepper slices and sprinkle the oregan over it. Add the seafood,  Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the skillet Cook until the clams open up and the shrimp is opaque clear through and has turned pink.  Add the peas. Recover the skillet and cook 2 minutes to thaw them, or a little longer if you prefer them cooked.

Serve from the skillet to preserve the still-life.