Lean Marine: 8 Low-Calorie, High-Impact Seafood Meals

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Cooking + Recipes


How to Dial Up on Flavor While Keeping it Light

When you’re watching your calorie intake, you’ll want to integrate more than just classic salads into your recipe rotation. To keep things interesting while keeping the calorie count in your overall diet low, integrate wild-caught seafood into your meal plans and look for recipes that pack in some high-impact flavors through the addition of herbs, spices, and fresh produce. 

Wild-caught seafood is an easy protein to use when you’re building low-calorie, high-impact meals into your diet, since it’s inherently a protein option that’s low in calories, delicious even when seasoned simply, and culinarily versatile.

Here are 8 recipes that will have you convinced that you can always dial up the flavor of your meals with wild-caught seafood, even when you’re eating light.

Salmon Bowl with Raw Veggie “Noodles”

This salmon veggie bowl from BBC Good Food is a low-carb, low-calorie meal that is as pleasing to the palette as it is to the eye. Zucchini and carrots are both spiralized into a bed of raw “noodles” that become the base of the dish, then topped with cooked beets and poached salmon tossed in a splash of balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a mandolin to shave the zucchini and carrots into thin ribbons instead. 

Ginger-Lemongrass Salmon Fishcakes

Made without the addition of breadcrumbs or eggs, these fishcakes from Jamie Oliver are lean and simple, but pack intense flavor from freshly minced lemongrass, ginger, and cilantro. Serve with something sweet and spicy. The recipe suggests a hot pepper jam, but a sweet and acidic Vietnamese-style nuoc cham would be a good match as well. 

Simple Fish Stew with Gremolata

A tomato-based fish stew is delicious, filling, and low in calories. Real Simple’s stew, spiced with coriander and paprika, can be made with either pollock or cod; the former is nice to use, as it’s already been cut into the right-sized chunks. To give the stew a final burst of flavor, add an easy-to-make gremolata — a mixture of minced garlic, lemon zest, parsley stems, and salt -- on top just before serving the dish. 

Spicy Green Halibut and Collard Stew

As an alternative to a red tomato-based stew, try Food and Wine’s recipe for a fisherman’s stew made with halibut, collard greens, green New Mexican Hatch chiles, and a type of heirloom tomato called “green zebra.” This particular variety of tomatoes is more tart than sweet, which complements the dark leafy greenness of the collards, one of the healthiest greens you can eat.  Serve this stew with or without bread. Note: If you can’t find green zebra tomatoes at the farmer’s market, improvise with another tart variety, or have extra lemons on hand to add extra acidity to the stew.

Puttanesca-Style Fish En Papillote

Mark Bittman’s Puttanesca-style recipe for fish cooked en papillote can be made with either halibut or salmon -- sockeye would be ideal, for its meatiness. Tomatoes, olives, capers, and a big handful of herbs go into a foil packet with your fillet of fish, then tossed onto a grill for six minutes or so. The humble components in the packet steam up into a briny sauce that’s high in flavor but low in calories. All the dish needs is a squeeze of fresh lemon to balance things out. 

Slow-Roasted Cod with Bell Peppers

For a lean, Mediterranean-inspired meal, check out Bon Appetit’s recipe for white fish (cod or halibut both work fine) roasted in a cool-ish oven with olive oil, capers, and pre-roasted bell peppers. The vibrant sweetness of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers gets concentrated as they roast under the broiler — you can do this step a day ahead of time — and become the foundation of the dish. Top with some capers, parsley, and red onion right before serving for a pop of briny, herbaceous freshness. 

Halibut in Green Tea Broth

Martha Stewart’s Japanese-inspired recipe for halibut serves a seared-then-baked fillet in a warm green tea broth cooked with shiitakes, bok choy, ginger, and edamame. Not only is this recipe low in calories: If you’re looking to restrict your calories as a way to lose weight, you probably already know that green tea purportedly has its own, unique benefits. 

Turmeric-Ginger Cod with Tender Herbs and Mango Sauce

This Vietnamese-style cod from I Heart Umami is marinated in turmeric and ginger, supercharging it with flavor and anti-inflammatory goodness. After at least an hour or up to a day of marination, the cod is pan-seared until each side of the fillet develops a crispy, golden crust. Bringing the entire low-calorie dish together are a zesty mango sauce and a deliciously heavy-handed addition of dill, scallions, and cilantro.


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