Salmon Sadness and Unagi Updates

Sad News for Salmon, Salmon Fisheries

People love salmon. Almost everyone does. The problem is that our reluctance to branch out and try other fish, like Arctic Char which is an excellent and sustainable substitute, has put such pressure on the salmon fisheries that we are eating them into extinction. Troublesome aquaculture of this species has not helped matters and there seems to be ample evidence that our dams may be damning the salmon for good, eliminating their spawning grounds. No spawning = no salmon. It's a pretty simple equation.

If you must eat salmon, please understand the choices you're making and the impact they have. Why not choose wild Alaskan Salmon? And, why not choose another delicious and sustainable fish?

The PBJ - Portland Business Journal reports that "For the third time in four years, the federal government has declared Oregon’s commercial salmon industry a disaster."

"Disaster relief money supports the fishing industry’s infrastructure — to pay boat payments, maintenance costs and moorage fees — while salmon fishing families collect no income. Fishery advocates say the disaster relief will buy time to restore damaged river systems."

Maybe someone who knows more than I can tell me about how this helps the salmon or the fishermen?


Photo courtesy of Matthew Demers. Wild Alaskan Salmon courtesy of: Gulkana Seafood Direct.

CONTEST - You Pick the Next Unagi Alternative!

Read all about Unagi and kabeyaki and this fun new contest on Casson Trenor's Sustainable Sushi blog. It's promoting alternative choices to this popular sushi selection. Enter and you may be the one to pick the next star on the Unagi alternative hit parade. Casson already used my favorite - sablefish - as an example so that's off limits. But enter now and you may win dinner for two and a signed copy of Casson's book. I wanted to drop a photo here but haven't gotten permission from the artist yet. Click here to see a Gayle Wheatley's rendering of danger.

On May 15th, Casson will take all the suggestions to Chef Kin Lui at Tataki Sushi Bar.  He will look at the list of suggestions, try them out as kabeyaki-style dishes, and choose a favorite.  Casson will post a picture of the winning dish on his excellent site: Sustainable Sushi. Read all about it here.

People often want me to tell them what's okay to eat and what's not. I try to decline. Each of us has to decide where we will draw our lines. I see my job (most of the time) as providing resources and information for you to make your own values-based decisions. Sometimes I make exceptions. Like tuna. These majestic fish are nearly gone. Only some species, harvested in some ways are acceptable. There are ample resources to check - see my resource guide here.

How about mackerel?

Mackerel is a sustainable choice and broils well due to its fat content. It holds up to saucing in this kabeyaki manner and is my vote for an Unagi alternative. Here is one recipe from last year's Teach a Man to Fish - the entry is from Stuart Brioza:

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Jung.