• August 2010

Why Eating Fish Can Make You Happier

By Chef Kim Katz Alvarez
Owner, Avenida Restaurant
www.avenidarestaurant.com

Despite crushing workloads and an economy that has taken a hit for 15 years, the people of Japan laugh and exude a sense of contentment. Compare that to the U.S., where rates of major depression are roughly 30 times greater. What gives?

According to the data shared at a recent Nutrition and Health Conference in New York City, fish may be the difference.

Specifically, it’s the omega 3 fatty acids in seafood of all kinds, according to Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “The average Japanese citizen eats about 145 pounds of fish annually,” he said. “The average American eats about 42 pounds.”

But the real problem is that most American diets have an imbalance between omega 3 (a family of unsaturated fatty acids found in tuna, salmon, cod, catfish, halibut, Mahi mahi, red snapper and shark, to name a few) and omega 6 fatty acids (a family of unsaturated fatty acids found in poultry, eggs, avocado, nuts, and the worst culprit, foods fried in soybean oil).

According to Hibbeln, this imbalance appears to contribute to depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity — and in severe cases to violence and murder. “The problem with too little omega 3 vs. omega 6 is that the enzymes that process it are very promiscuous. Conversely, cell membranes with abundant omega 3 acids are associated with lowered rates of heart disease, diabetes, and depression.”

The solution? We say eat more fish, starting with one of our signature dishes at Avenida Restaurant, — Grilled Tuna with fresh Hearts of Palm salad.

And check this out: In the Sunday, July 25 issue of “The Philadelphia Inquirer,” food critic Craig LaBan gave us an excellent review. Read all about it on Philly.comFood.

How to Prepare Grilled Tuna with Hearts of Palm Salad

What you’ll need

  • 4 eight oz ahi tuna filets seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 T spanish olive oil
  • 1 sixteen oz jar of hearts of palm julienned
  • 1 red pepper julienned
  • 1 poblano pepper julienned
  • 1 yellow pepper julienned
  • 4 oz capers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley chopped
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  • 2 T spanish olive oil

Here’s how:

1. Season tuna with salt and pepper. Brush with a little oil.
2. Place on hot grill. Grill to desired temperature (about 3 minutes on each side for rare, and 5- 7 minutes for medium rare).
3. Prepare vegetables. Place in bowl. Add lime, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper only if needed.
4. Serve by placing salad on plate and topping it with the hot grilled tuna.

¡Buen Provecho!


About Chef Kim Alvarez

A graduate of Syracuse University’s restaurant management program and the two-year chef program at the Culinary Institute of America, cooking has been Kim’s passion since she was 7. That’s when her mother enrolled her in a cooking class at Bloomingdales in Jenkintown, Pa.

It was Thanksgiving time, and the first assignment was to make homemade stuffing. Kim loved the tearing of the bread and combining it with the wet ingredients, using her fingers. It was the best stuffing she had ever tasted and to this day, she continues to make that stuffing recipe for her family: husband and co-chef Edgar, and children Emma and Alejandro.

In Kim’s 25 years as a chef, she has worked in some of the best kitchens in America including Brad Ogden’s One Market in San Francisco, and the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, Calif. She was second-in-command at the Striped Bass, and head chef of Beaujolais in Philadelphia. She also worked in several gourmet markets in Philadelphia including Gerard’s and Patina.

Kim and Edgar (pictured above) are the owners of Philadelphia’s Avenida, where they are building a reputation as the go-to spot for fabulous Latin American cuisine in a family-friendly environment.

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