Fresh versus Frozen
If I say "frozen fish", you immediately think "yuck", right? Of course you do! We've learned to follow the mantra of "fresh, fresh, fresh." So naturally when we think of frozen food it conjures up bad school lunch type memories.
As I covered in my Sensible Sustainabilty post here, sometimes frozen from afar beats fresh and local. The frozen fish option can often be a more sustainable choice than a fresh one, particularly if a fresh fish comes from an over-fished stock. Some points to consider in the frozen versus fresh/local fish question:
Shipping seafood by air (fresh seafood from anywhere but your own backyard) generates 10 times as much greenhouse gas as transferring it by container ship and five times as much as shipping by truck.
Transporting what we eat accounts for 80 percent of the U.S. food system's greenhouse gas emissions.
Our local CSF Community supported fishery is quite popular but I understand that they are catching cod, cod, cod and have yet to give any assurances about reducing by-catch or upgrading their equipment. It's that maddening "trust us" philosophy, which I would argue has been demonstrated as unreliable for protecting the cod, so far.
My (frozen) Halibut Dinner
This dinner represents a sustainable, frozen fish option and uses fresh herbs from the garden. If you have fresh local fish, you could also make it with this recipe. If you're using cod from the Boston area CSF, please let the fishermen know we are waiting for their commitment to using more sustainable, less environmentally onerous methods.
This halibut is a perfect example of when frozen trumps fresh. Wild Alaskan Halibut comes quickly cryovacked (think I just made up that verb) from a healthy, well-managed fishery. It also has the MSC Marine Stewardship Council's seal of approval.
Broiled Halibut Steaks with Compound Herb butter. (this recipe is modified ever so slightly from Rick Moonen's Fish Without a Doubt cookbook which I highly recommend.)
I thawed the halibut according to package directions. I made a compound butter (somewhat following Rick's basil butter on page 409) adding chopped shallot, two cloves of black garlic.
Basil Black Garlic Butter
- 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
- 1 C basil leaves
- 1 -2 TBSP minced shallots
- 2 cloves black garlic
Halibut steaks were patted dry, seasoned with salt and white pepper, spread with composed butter/panko bread crumb mix.
You can prepare the fish and refrigerate while you prep your veg for the grill.
Yep, you heard me right. With my frozen fish, I'm serving Grilled Salad. These vegetables are perfect when simply brushed with olive oil and grilled. I used a favorite Bergamot Olive Oil from Olivier & Co. That oil imparts a citrusy note which you could replicate with a squeeze of lemon into a good olive oil, or squeeze right over the veg as they come off the grill.
- Quarter a nice head of raddichio (pick one about the size of a small grapefruit, heavy for its size and free of dark wilted leaves).
- Rinse and pat dry whole romaine leaves
- Slice thin (about quarter inch) fennel bulb.
Brush a little oil on the grill, place veg on grill and don't touch for a couple of minutes to get nice grill marks.
Here is (top to bottom) romaine, raddichio & fennel - all three make a delicious grilled salad with only the addition of a little oil and S&P.
When you flip the veg, put the fish under the broiler for about 6-10 minutes depending upon how thick it is and whether it's straight out of the fridge or at room temp.
Cous cous cooks in a flash - I had some shrimp stock in the freezer, which I defrosted and used. Place fronds from the fennel over the cous cous to serve.
The basil butter with panko adds a flavorful crunchy topping to the halibut with its meaty and mild white flesh. The cous cous was fragrant and the grilled salad was lightly charred from the grill.
Served with a Muscadet Sur Lie. For other recommended pairings see Nat Decants and her new iPhone app that helps you shop for the perfect wine pairing. I had the Muscadet handy and its bright acid and minerality complements seafood particularly well. "Sur Lie" means the wine was left in contact with the lees or yeast deposits for extra depth of flavor during fermentation.