The term "fish platter" can refer to a meal of fish and accompanying sides served on a large dish. It also can refer to a large dish of a variety of cooked fish intended for snacking while entertaining or at a party, similar to an appetizer plate or fruit tray. In either case, the fish is usually, but not always, cooked, with the selection of fish generally determined by the species available in the region of preparation. In terms of cooking and serving utensils, the term also refers to the actual platter on which such meals or selected fish are presented.
As a meal, a fish platter most commonly contains accompaniments such as cooked vegetables and one or two large fish fillets, which are either baked, grilled or pan fried. Boiled fish is available but is not as popular. When chefs bake fish for a platter, it is normal to season it with herbs and spices. If the chef opts to grill the fish, he typically adds a glaze or sauce. Platter recipes that call for fried fish usually involve a seasoned coating of bread crumbs or flour.
When people mean an appetizer tray in reference to a fish platter, the platter usually has at least two varieties of fish, which differentiates this type of platter from a meal platter. If desired, the platter may contain other seafood such as cooked shrimp and may be accompanied by finger foods such as crackers. They also can contain sauces in which to dip the fish, as well as lemon slices and garnishes such as parsley. These types of platters are designed to accommodate more than one person and are to be shared.
Regardless of whether a person means a meal or sharing plate, chefs may opt to include raw fish in a fish platter. For example, they might feature sushi or shashimi. This is more typical in Asian cuisine. If a chef does this, the platter has to be served and consumed as soon as possible to avoid spoilage of the fish. In these platters, rice is a staple.
Even though the method of preparation has an effect on nutritional value, doctors, chefs and nutritionists consider a fish platter to be a good dietary option. Fish is a low-calorie food that also contains high levels of essential omega fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These acids play a role in body functions such as building cells and reducing inflammation. They also are may lower heart disease risk, as omega fats are unsaturated or "good" fats that increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is a carrier in the blood that moves cholesterol away from arteries to the liver so it can pass from the body instead of forming dangerous plaque.