Celebrating The Persian New Year

March 21 is officially the first day of spring, when the northern hemisphere celebrates the rebirth of nature. This date also marks the beginning of the two-week Persian New Year festival of Nowruz, which features many symbolic foods dating back to ancient times.

The traditional menu for the Nowruz gathering on the day of the equinox always includes fish and noodles, which are believed to bring good luck, fertility and prosperity in the year ahead.

Middle Eastern cooking often combines fruit with meat, poultry, or fish and, in Persian cooking, every herb and spice is viewed as having its own special properties. Orange peel, for instance, is believed to aid digestion. Like the lemon juice sprinkled over the fish, it also contains Vitamin C.

Westerners tend to eat less than the recommended weekly servings of fish, especially cold-water fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to help fight cancer. Fish is also a good source of protein without the high levels of unhealthful saturated fat and calories found in meats.

The cooking method used in this recipe – wrapping the ingredients in parchment paper or foil and allowing them to cook in their juices – is also referred to in French as “en papillotte,” literally translated, “in buttered paper.” Better yet, use a spray canola or olive oil on either paper or foil. Wrap the food envelope-style by folding in each end of the wrapper. This makes not only an elegant presentation but is an effective method for melding subtle flavors together.

Garlic and onions have long been known for their anti-cancer effects and combine beautifully with the mild flavor of halibut and other flatfish. It is essential to use fresh basil in this recipe, as basil is one of the herbs that takes least well to drying. Fortunately, you can find it in most markets year-round.

Serve this dish with the traditional sesame or whole-wheat noodles and your new year is sure to be off on the right foot with good luck, fertility and prosperity.

Halibut with Citrus and Garlic - Makes 4 servings.

1 strip (about 1/2 inch wide) orange peel
4 4-oz. skinless fish fillets, e.g. halibut
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 red onion, very thinly-sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Firmly hold one end of the strip of orange peel skin side down on a cutting board. With the other hand, holding a knife at a low, almost horizontal, angle, cut away the white pith, starting at the end being held down and working down the strip. Cut the strip lengthwise into 4-inch long, narrow strips.

Cut four pieces of foil about 12 inches long. Place a fish fillet in center of each piece. Rub garlic into fish. Sprinkle lemon juice over fish. Sprinkle one-fourth of the zucchini, onion, orange zest strips and basil on top of each fillet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Crimp edges of foil together to seal.

Bake fish 15 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly. Carefully open packets and transfer fish to plates. Top with vegetables and juices and serve.

Per serving: 137 calories, 5 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 2 g. carbohydrate, 21 g. protein, less than 1 g. dietary fiber, 55 mg. sodium.

The Author:

"Something Different" is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR's Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).

Article Source: Aicr.org

Article Posted: March 18, 2007

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment