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Heart-healthy fish at Whole Foods Market for Valentine’s Day and beyond

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Whole Foods Market has started carrying a new fish called paiche, which is a whitefish from the Amazon. After trying a complimentary sample, I wanted to pass along some information about paiche (pronounced “pie-chay”). I also have a recipe to share plus an opportunity for one of you to win a Whole Foods Market gift card (see end of article for contest details).

And in case you were wondering, it’s not merely Valentine’s season: February is National Heart Month, so it’s good to think about eating heart-healthy foods like fish!

As stated in a December 2013 New York Times “Front Burner” article, paiche is a freshwater fish with a “mild, sweet flavor and a meaty, dense texture that is suitable for sautéing, roasting and grilling; it also holds up well in stews.” The article warns that although the fish is threatened by overfishing and deforestation, it’s being sustainably raised in ponds in Peru monitored by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It is being filleted, shipped frozen from Peru, and thawed at Whole Foods Market.

WFM is the only national retailer that’s currently carrying paiche, and it’s priced at $14.99/lb. This paiche is raised without antibiotics, pesticides or added hormones. It has an optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plus 20 grams of protein in every 3.5-ounce serving. It has a lower fat content than some similar whitefish like Chilean seabass—as I soon discovered, the decreased fat correlates to decreased flavor.

I got my paiche at the market with complimentary seasoning added to my filet (whenever you buy seafood at WFM, you can ask for seasoning at no extra cost). I chose a lemon-herb combination; in the future I would try something with more kick like a Cajun seasoning blend—that was available at the market too—or fresh garlic and other strong herbs. The fish was subtly flavored after my husband grilled it; it’s one of those products that takes on the flavor of what you add to it. The texture was pleasing, very steak-like. A bonus of the mild flavor? My 2 ½ year old daughter loved it! It actually made her open to trying seafood in general whereas she had previously been a bit hesitant; last night she was willing to taste freshly grilled salmon and asked for more.

Another advantage to a mild-tasting fish is that you can use it as a conduit for a sauce or ingredient that you want to be the star of your dish. I bet the paiche is perfect for this Pan-Seared Paiche with Spicy Avocado Sauce and Greens recipe provided by WFM, which includes jalapeno (see photo).

Want the chance to win a gift card so you can buy paiche and/or other ingredients at WFM? Keep reading!

CONTEST
Prize: A $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market.
To enter, email your name to tfatemiwalker@yahoo.com and include the words “Whole Foods seafood.” Deadline to enter is Fri. Feb. 14, 2014 at 9 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s Examiner.com and Santacruzfoodie.com sites. Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for this promotion.

On Twitter? Please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

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