Ingredient of the Week: Coley

Ingredient of the Week: Coley

Coley is a white fish coming from the same family as cod. Even though it is classed as white, it has a slightly darker colouring than cod and has a stronger, denser texture that doesn’t flake as easy. It tastes slightly more meaty and earthy as well. I have only recently discovered it through receiving it in my Fishbox, but I really like it. You can get both regular and smoked varieties, and I have tried both. As it generally is quite a large fish, weight varies from 500g to 6kg, it is usually only available as fillets rather than as a whole fish, which is much better for me. Another name for it is saithe.

Why is it good for me?

Coley, like most fish, is a very good source of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. Skin, hair, muscles and blood vessels are all made up of protein and so we require them to stay alive. When we exercise our muscles get damaged and so need repairing, protein does this, which is why athletes require a greater amount than average. Protein also helps muscles to grow and get stronger, which is always one of our aims as athletes.

Coley also contains B vitamins, especially B12 or folate, which is needed by the body to build healthy red blood cells. In particular haemoglobin, which binds to oxygen in the lungs and transports it to muscles, which need  oxygen to convert carbohydrate to energy. Endurance athletes in particular require a higher amount of red blood cells if they are to be efficient. Folate is also needed in a higher amount by pregnant women in the first trimester, as it plays a role in DNA formation and so can prevent neural defects developing in babies.

An important mineral found in coley is selenium, an antioxidant. It helps to remove potentially damaging free radicals produced in the cells from the body, helping to protect against cancer and heart disease. Other foods high in selenium include cod, egg and mushrooms.

How do I prepare it?

As coley generally comes already filleted, skinned and deboned, it needs very little preparation. As with all fish though, it is best to check for any stray bones before cooking by feeling along the flesh. Then slice it in to smaller pieces if the recipe requires or just season it if you like, then cook whole.

How do I cook it?

Coley is very versatile and can be baked, roasted, grilled, steamed, poached or fried. A really quick, easy and healthy way to cook it is in the microwave. It takes a similar length of time to cook as other white fish, such as cod, haddock or hake, making it very simple to switch it into other recipes. 

Personally I prefer smoked coley over standard, as it has more flavour especially in this smoked coley rice salad. It is also delicious in this kedgeree recipe, although I regularly follow the same recipe using other smoked fish varieties with just as delicious results. This roast coley warm lentil salad is a really nutritious and light meal which showcases the flavour of coley really well. 

As I have already said, it is really easy to replace many other fish fillets for coley in recipes, like the hake in this Mediterranean fish pasta or the cod in this cod noodle omelette. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. It is also available frozen, making it a cheap way to always have the option at home in your freezer. Please if you can find it give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Thank you for reading and speak soon.


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