Sustainable Seafood

National Sushi Day - More Sushi Secrets

This book figured into an almost mystical, years-long unfolding story of sushi, secrets, family and friends. I learned after the fact that June 18 is National Sushi Day. Someone once said "if she didn't have bad timing, she'd have none at all." This may be the best timing I've ever had.

So let me take this timely opportunity to visit the book apart from my own story. First, let's address sustainability issues, after all part of how Marisa came to ask me for a jacket blurb was through my sustainable seafood writing.

Tuna or No Tuna or ???

I was contemplating a second post on the tuna we used for the dinner anyway, but I figure now that folks might be searching for sushi at home tips - may as well post it now.

If you love sushi, and whether or not you've tried to make it at home, I highly recommend this book. The author, Marisa Baggett is a pretty interesting character: an African American woman caterer from Mississippi who falls in love with sushi through a catering job, closes up shop, buys a one way ticket west to go to the California Sushi Academy and ends up publishing this book. I mean, who even ate sushi in Starkville, MS back then? On top of it, Marisa in true American fashion has taken sushi in slightly non-traditional directions. She not only encourages folks to riff on the classics, she gives great tips for incorporating local ingredients.

She also focuses on sustainability, bringing us around to the issue of tuna. I stopped eating bluefin a while back. The population is so depleted, the only hope for its survival is careful management and probably a moratorium on them altogether. That's not likely but I personally do not feel it's ethical to keep eating them in light of the overwhelming data about the pressures on the stock.

The good news is that you don't have to forego sushi. Bluefin was not always the most popular sushi choice, you know. In fact, Japanese used to bury it to lessen the bloody taste of it. Only now as demand for it worldwide has grown, and so the market opportunity in fishing it, have we seen such a crazy feeding frenzy for tuna. Read more about this once disparaged sushi choice by expert Trevor Corson. It's a fascinating bit of Sushi history that most people are largely unaware of.

As with most of our food choices, conscious carnivores know that every choice, like our choice of tuna, carries consequences. In addition to the numbers, there's also the ways that tuna are caught (methods typically used now include unconscionable by-catch). If that wasn't enough, there's mercury which accumulates in unsafe amounts in these top-line predators.

So what's the answer, no more tuna? I think there are some options. We found this frozen yellowfin

yellowfin tuna

under the brand "Sushi at Home" which lists it's country of origin at Korea (likely the processor only.) Anyway, it was an interesting option to incorporate and I was pleased with the texture and quality. I've written to the company to see if they will provide more information. Presumably Whole Foods Market has done their homework as well.

The other option now available here in Boston, is locally caught bluefin from Menemsha. I have mixed feelings about it, but I believe they're not using FADs and probably long lining or pole catching and limited in a way that's likely more regulated than the big international vessels. I'll drop an update here when I get more info on either the frozen or the fresh versions.

 

Sushi Secrets - the Book

Let's take a look at how the book is laid out, we'll use tuna as our example...and also highlight some Southern and some uniquely American items:

In the opening pages Baggett lays out what you need to know about making sushi at home, including a forward by Trevor Corson, Getting Started covers the 8 basic types of sushi. Planning, an overview of the basic types of sushi and tools - each of these include photographs and helpful tips. Buying sushi ingredients includes a suggestion toward local ingredients and a small note about why bluefin tuna is omitted. Great Sauces and Condiments for Sushi, is followed by the first Chapter: Appetizers. Included here are Japanese classics as you might find in a restaurant, Age Dashi Tofu, Chicken Gyoza, Soba Salad, Tempura.

Next is Sashimi including Poké, Oyster San Ten Mori, Tilapia, Tuna and Avocado tartar.

Pressed, Gunkan and Nigiri sushi - includes Tuna Tataki among many others. One I'm dying to try is Avocado and Pomegranate Nigiri. Buttery avo and tart pomegranate sounds fantastic to me.

Thin Rolls is next and includes some of the most interesting combos: Butternut squah rolls, Lamb rolls with mint, Roast Pork Rolls with Sweet Gingered Cherries.

Okra - and Crawfish - Southern staples - makes their appearance in the next chapter, Thick Rolls. (My Mom used to call all my attempts at thin rolls "futomaki" or thick rolls, not necessarily a compliment.)

Catfish and peanuts, two additional Southern favorites - appear in separate Inside Out Rolls.

The Sushi Bowls chapter includes: Egg, Goat Cheese and Green Bean Sushi bowl, Sesame Tuna, Ham and Peach as well as Ratatouille Sushi Bowls (where a tomato is the bowl!)

Next up: Te Maki or Hand Rolls - Crispy Chicken Skin Hand Roll, Glazed Bacon Hand Roll, Coconut Shrimp...Kimchee, Tomato, Anchovy Hand Roll. The Spicy Calamari Te Maki looks divine.

Desserts include plays on themes like chocolate Fudge Wontons and "Eggroll" Cherry Pies, cocktails and mocktails finish the book.

A helpful Resources guide is included as well.

 

This small book it packed with photos that enable even novice sushi fans to explore sushi at home, to get creative and to focus on local sustainable ingredients. Doing good tastes good.

Gochisosama, y'all!

 

Sushi Secrets is published by Tuttle Publishing. It is available by clicking on the cover above through Powell's or at your local independent bookstore. You can also order it through Amazon.

Get to know Marisa via her site: In the Kitchen with a Southern Sushi Chef.

Go Here, Eat This: North Shore Edition - Enzo Restaurant

I may be the worst (or best?) procrastinator on the face of the planet. I can use the excuse that I am intermittently reinforced for this habit and thus feel powerless in the face of it. I'm mostly joking and do get an awful lot done, but never quite as much, as quickly as I would prefer. This North Shore edition of "Go Here, Eat This" (my series of occasional restaurant reviews) focuses on the Enzo Restaurant in the town of Newburyport. Chef Mary Reilly and husband Dave invite you to relax and enjoy fresh Italian cuisine, interpreted through hyper-local ingredients. If you love knowing that your fish was swimming that morning, your pork was humanely and sustainably raised, your chef is supporting local farmers, fishermen and distillers; well, Enzo is for you.

Last summer I was delighted to be introduced to one of our local distillers and equally happy to discover that Enzo carries these distilleries' fine products on their bar. Of course! After my first meal at Enzo, I floated away on a cloud of sated happiness and promised to tell everyone. Mary was kind enough to share the recipe for one of their house cocktails, and I tested it out with my fresh-late summer produce. I muddled, mixed, sipped, and shot.

Farmers' Market Martini, Enzo

Then life happened. A lot of it. Good and bad  -- and just took over -- as it does -- and here we are in AUGUST already. Luckily it's a great time to try this cocktail (again.)

Farmers' Market Martini

This cocktail takes advantage of the smoothness of Beauport vodka and the fresh flavor of summer vegetables.

  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, or 1/4 of a medium tomato
  • 2-3 slices cucumber
  • a few sprigs of herbs: parsley, basil, chives, summer savory (whatever you have on hand)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz. Beauport vodka
  • cucumber wheel or cherry tomato for garnish

In a mixing glass, muddle the tomato, cucumber and herbs well with the salt.  Really make sure you mash all the vegetables up so as to extract as much juice as possible.  Add the vodka and ice and put the top on your shaker.  Shake well to make sure the you get everything super cold and well combined.  Double strain* into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cucumber wheel or cherry tomato.

* Double straining is a technique used when you make a drink with a lot of "bits" in it. In addition to a standard Hawthorne or julep strainer (or the strainer built into your cocktail shaker), strain through a fine-mesh strainer into your glass. A simple way to do it: hold the shaker/strainer combo in your right hand and hold the fine mesh strainer over your cocktail glass. Pour directly into the fine-mesh strainer - all the small bits will get caught, leaving you with a clearer drink.  If you don't have a fine-mesh strainer, no worries, the double strain isn't essential; your cocktail will just be a wee bit chunkier!

Getting Back to Enzo

The good news is that Enzo Restaurant has passed their first year anniversary, they're gaining steady clientele and gathering a slew of good reviews along the way. You really must go and experience it for yourself. It's comfortable yet sophisticated. As North Shore folks are wont to do, there are plenty of customers in well-worn shorts and deck shoes in evidence. The freshly coifed and the couples celebrating having found sitters on the same night (so it seemed to me) were also out in equal numbers. I was pleased to see a fair number of guests who knew the staff and to learn our server likes the place so much she'd brought her partner back on her day off! Not many restaurants can make that claim. Everyone should know this is a warm and welcoming place.

This recent meal was full of delicious surprises (left to right):

The olive oil and foccacia were delicious and a statement in pink and green.

Nonna Rose - Enzo's first barrel-aged cocktail with Milagro blanco tequila, Aperol liqueur and vermouth spend a month in an oak barrel to produce this smoky, slightly spicy cocktail. Served on the rocks with a flamed orange peel.

Pat Woodbury's Clams (wanted a bathtub sized bowl of these babies, clean, ocean-y).

Rhubarbarita, Fried Polenta, Fried olives stuffed with cheese (one of the few olive dishes Doc loves).

 

Nonna Rose, Fried Olives

 

Since the Striper was caught that morning, I couldn't resist. The fish was perfectly cooked, sat on a bed of three local beans and potato dice.

Doc had the free form lasagna, housemade cheese, local sausage.

Dessert - sorbetto so rich and chocolatey you might think you were given gelato instead. Correto.

 

EnzoResto Striper, Lasagna

So, Mary & Dave - we will not wait another year to come back! I'm hungry again looking at all the delicious food. Wonderful evening beginning sips to last. Mille Grazie!

Enzo Restaurant

50 Water St., #304 Newburyport, MA (978) 462-1801

Opens at 6:00 Tuesday through Thursday and 5:00 Friday through Sunday

Closed Mondays

Highlights: Local, seasonal, handmade food.

For diners with allergies: Enzo is one of the best at accommodating allergies and offers options for nearly everyone.

Phone ahead for reservations and let them know of any allergies then.

 

Where to Go? What to Order?

Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The “must-try” spot for Chinese food? Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger? Pizza? A Gluten-free joint? Who does the best dollar oysters? Roast pig? People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there.

“Go Here, Eat This” 

Quick posts sharing notes of good spots to eat, highlighting what’s unique about the place,  favorite dishes, house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I’ll also try to note things like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc. Just stuff you ought to know.

World of Flavor and Portuguese Stew

When you think about what Portugal has contributed to the world of gastronomic pleasure, we really do - all of us, owe them a debt of gratitude.

I was thrilled to receive David Leite's The New Portuguese Table (ahem) a while ago. As I do, I have spent months reading it and imagining making each recipe that catches my eye, imagining traveling to the town where the author first enjoyed it, or resting for a spell on the island from which it hails.

Yes, I do this with menus as well, so you never want to go out to eat with me if you're very hungry. "Oh look at this, what an interesting combination of flavors." "So you're having that?" "No, I was thinking of this instead, but it's really interesting to imagine that flavor profile. I wonder where the chef got her inspiration?" Yes, this how I approach almost every menu. It is part of the case for my husband's ascension sainthood. He - prone to low blood sugar crashes - has to remind me too often, I fear, that he's HUNGRY, NOW and can we JUST PICK SOMETHING AND ORDER PLEASE? Sorry, sometimes a girl just gets lost.

Lust and Lusophilia

I have been a Lusophile (Lusitania was the region of ancient times that corresponds to Portugal and Western Spain) myself since college. I learned a bit through customers in the wine shop about their visits, their love for the Fado sung with such passion in the cafés. Their descriptions of the pousadas (old mansions and castles, now inns for tourists) was so romantic, I openly wished and planned for a visit one day.

More recently, I learned about Madeira and Port and the wonderful wines of Esporão (and fantastic olive oil) at this tasting with my buddy Rich. I was thrilled to meet Marco Montez of New Bedford's own Travessia Winery and I'll be heading to see you soon Marco (what a great video intro to your winery!)

If you know anything about Portuguese history - you know it is, in a sense, a world history. The early Portuguese were such travelers, you'd be hard-pressed to find a country or a cuisine that did not reflect some influence or contact with Portuguese. In my native Japan we have Tempura (from Portuguese) and we call bread "pan" which is a Japanese pronunciation of the Portuguese "Pão".

Back to Portugal and Fall River. And Lamb stew.

Foodies among my readers will know David as the publisher of Leite's Culinaria - a beautiful and well-loved site dishing up "Hot Food. Dry Wit" (every time I read that I wish I'd thought of it first!) I know David through IACP (we were *this close* to doing a panel together for this year's conference.) He is a wonderful, accessible and down-to-earth guy who is always willing to share time, advice and insights, whether it's in a webinar for other cookbook authors and wanna-be publishers, or during an interview in the middle of alternate side of the street parking negotiation.

So my confession is two-fold: first, this is my first actual recipe I've cooked from the book (I think) and second, I didn't do the recipe straight. Don't hate me - I can explain!

Recently, we feasted for a week on Indian food lovingly prepared by our friend's visiting Mother. With the Indian spice palette lingering in my memory (and on my palate - please take note word-manglers out there - these are two different words), I turned to my beautiful boneless leg of lamb and to David's New Portuguese Table.

Lo and behold, a gorgeous recipe using many of the same warm spices we had been enjoying all week. Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger and garlic. White beans and carrots are the called for vegetables in Borrego Ensopado com Feijão Bronco, and they appeared in our stew, too. I also had some fingerling potatoes leftover from a bag half-used in another dish, so in they went.

We enjoyed it over rice and I had my leftovers served atop grits I simmered in homemade vegetable stock. I told myself that these little divergences would be forgiven and possibly not uncommon in a true Portuguese kitchen. I think or imagine at least, that many of these kitchens are like those of my ancestors where nothing gets wasted. So the dish may have ended up a little different from its original but then, isn't that the beauty of the multicultural world we live in today? And frugality? Hardly new, but new again, and much in evidence around here.

One of the things I love about this book is the way you are welcomed into a Portuguese kitchen. You can easily imagine sharing a coffee with a slice of Bolo de Laranja (Orange Cake, p 220) as he tells you stories, of his family in Fall River, Massachusetts or his time in Lisbon, or the traditions of this town or that. You just want to sit for hours and eat and drink and laugh.

This cake - coming soon to a kitchen near you ~ posting the recipe next.

That, my friends is what I encourage you to do - share a meal. Pick up this book, dream and travel the globe through it. Imagine the warm and lusty flavors of the Azores, the seafood, the salty cured olives or sausages. Then enjoy some hot food and dry wit with your friends or family. Or just on your own. Any way you do it, you really must just enjoy it. To help you ~ I'm offering a free copy to one of the lucky commenters here.

An Invitation ~ Convite

Share with us your connection to Portugal. Have you been? Where do you wish to go?

What flavors does your native cuisine share or borrow from Portugal? Been to an Azorean restaurant?

If you have a favorite fish curry from Goa ~ or have a hankering for Vindhaloo - you're longing for the flavors of Portuguese food. Love those little custard tarts in Chinese bakeries? "Po-tat" or "Dan-tat" (Pastéis de Nata, p 217) are said to have Portuguese origins coming to Hong Kong via Macau. Japanese tempura, bacalhao, enjoy a nice glass of Port or Madeira or Vinho Verde? Well, you get my drift.

So drop a comment and enter to win a copy of this gorgeous book. Just don't blame me if you also become a Lusophile. There's always room for one more at our table, no matter where in the world you hail from we've got you covered. And fed.

An unpopular electric eel at the International Boston Seafood Show

I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish.

Dame Edith Sitwell

 

I think this quote appeals to me because I'm often the one who says the unpopular thing that needs to be said. When everyone else is too polite or too timid to say it, I'm often the one that speaks up. I'm okay with that. This feeling of being that eel comes to mind as I head out to the International Boston Seafood Show.

I'll be among a small minority there who are concerned with conservation issues. Unpopular, indeed, among the sellers of all manner of endangered or threatened species. I just remember being floored by seeing miles of tuna and so many other species there with deals being made for what remains of them to be further diminished for profit. It's really one of the hardest things about the show.

Kibo and Hope

There will be glimmers of hope and that's what we look for. Who is practicing sustainable aquaculture? Who is working to reduce by-catch and waste? What are we doing to balance the needs of all species ocean and even land-based mammals, like fishermen? Ultimately, unless we talk about models that work for local economies whether it's in Costa Rica or Gloucester, we will be fighting an unwinnable battle to preserve the last of species like cod or tuna.

That's why I'm so excited to be working with The Friends of MarViva and thrilled to be learning about their success and ongoing challenges in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Just last week, it was announced that this new species of shark was discovered in that region.

Kibō is Japanese for "Brimming with Hope" and is the name of an e-book I urge you to order today

From the Random House website:

Kibō was written by Japanese culinary authority Elizabeth Andoh, who was in her Tokyo kitchen when the Great Eastern-Japan Earthquake struck.  Over the following months she witnessed the strength of the people of the Tohoku region--one of the largest miso- and sake-producing areas in Japan--as they struggled with the effects of the resulting tsunami and nuclear accident. She was inspired to write Kibō(meaning "brimming with hope") to not only tell the story of the food of the Tohoku region but also to document the experiences of its people, both before and after the disaster. This lushly photographed original eBook will honor the region and its rich culture on the first anniversary of the earthquake, with a portion of the proceeds going to Japanese recovery efforts.

 

I will go see who's who and what's what and I will go to a special seminar by the Japan's Ministry of Agriculture and Chef David Bouley.

Stay tuned. Eat sustainable seafood. Keep Hope Alive.

Be concerned with integrity over popularity.

Ceviche of Scallop, Squid, Kumquats

Ceviche has not caught on like sushi yet. Not sure why. South and Central Americans love it. It's fast, it's healthy. It probably passes for raw and paleo and all that. Certainly it's low carb. It's loaded with vitamins and good clean protein. You can serve it over shredded romaine and radicchio in a martini glass for an elegant brunch or dinner starter. You can serve it as a main course.

It's as refreshing in Winter as it is in Summer. The "Tiger's Milk" or the juices leftover once the seafood is consumed is reputed to be a sure-fire hangover cure.

The main question you get when you mention ceviche is "...but isn't that raw?!" Even from folks who eat sushi!

The extent to which is is "cooked" by the citrus seems to me to be enough that you wouldn't liken it to sushi, but not cooked enough to make it part of a pregnant woman's regular diet. Now, if you're pregnant and you eat canned goods from BPA-lined cans or a burger from nearly anywhere but a clean local farm with an impeccable slaughterhouse -- I'd argue you're safer with this ceviche, but hey, I'm not a doctor.

 

What is ceviche?

Simply put, it's a quick pickle involving citrus juice for the acid (typically lime) and seafood (most often shrimp, scallops, squid or thin white fish fillets.) Shrimp is so problematic and dirty, I mostly avoid it. You have the insane by-catch (up to nine pounds of wasted unintended catch for every single pound of shrimp harvested on traditional equipment), and you have the imported toxic crap. A few exceptions to be sure, but in the main, not so great.

The good news is that scallops can be harvested locally and with little damage (or a lot, ask your fishmonger) and squid is a great choice. Once prepared in this way, both become velvety and firm and not at all "raw fish" tasting.

 

Recipe: Simple Ceviche - Scallops, Squid, Kumquats


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb scallops (diver scallops, dry pack; rinsed, patted dry and cut into thirds, cross-wise)
  • 1 lb squid (sliced into rings)
  • 2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 C freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
  • ~ 1/3 C poblano pepper, minced
  • ~ 1/3 C red onion, minced
  • ~ 1 C sliced kumquats, organic please
  • ~ 1C chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP aji amarillo
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • ~ 1/3 C jalapeño, minced

 

Note about ingredients: Aji Amarillo is a deep yellow dried pepper that adds a floral note and gorgeous color to the ceviche. It is native to Peru I think, and it is more widely available than it used to be. Try a market with a good "international" section or drive to your nearest bodega. You will most likely find it in dried, powdered form but sometimes in a paste. I first learned of it through Peruvian food.

Here is a photo of some dried Aji Amarillo pods and also the Aji Amarillo powder. Last year, the New York Times called it a "new staple" ingredient. We couldn't agree more.

Although "amarillo" means yellow, the pepper itself is more red-orange in its natural state, turning this sort of caramel color when dried. It does lend a golden color to food it's cooked with, so perhaps that is where the name came from. The pepper is piquant more than it is hot. Definite fruity and floral notes with a gentle not overpowering heat. Try mixing some into your mayo the next time you're making potato salad. Magic!

 

Directions for assembling your Ceviche:

 

  1. Prepare your vegetables, mincing or slicing, as directed. You can vary the amount of heat by reducing the amount of jalapeño if you like but you can also eat around them. If you prefer less heat, leave the jalapeño in larger slices, rather than mince. Slice the kumquats across. This does two things, gives you pretty slices and enables you to remove seeds.
  2. Squeeze your juices. You positively, absolutely do not want to substitute bottled juices here. Remember as a rule of thumb the fewer the ingredients the more important the quality. (Also the acid level is not as critical as in Canning when you actually do want use bottled lemon juice which has a consistent acidity.)
  3. Prepare your scallops and squid. Rinse, pat dry, slice, then blanch by pouring boiling water over the seafood for just a few seconds, drain immediately. Pat dry.
  4. Mix it all together in a large glass or non-reactive bowl.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours. Stir once to ensure all the seafood is evenly submerged. If you leave it in the marinade longer, the seafood will continue to firm up. This is neither good nor bad, just is. I would not be able to tell you what happens after overnight, because we never have it around that long.
The beautiful golden color is imparted by the Aji Amarillo. Sunny, refreshing, healthy, delicious. What could be better?

 

Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Winter Citrus (plus a couple dead-easy recipes)

Every once in a while we have to shake things up. We all get stuck in ruts, falling back on the familiar recipes, the easy ones we don't have to think about.

Right now, even in New England, we have citrus. You may even have a CSA that brings you citrus from the East coast. Or, if you're really lucky, you may have relatives that mail you boxes of citrus from their yard. You may simply pick up some gorgeous citrus in the grocery store. There's a reason we crave citrus in Winter. It's full of vitamins and tastes of the sun - what's not to love?

Here are my picks for some favorite ways to incorporate citrus, hopefully they'll give you some inspiration.

1. Roast a chicken with oranges and lemon and warm Indian spices.

The other night I wanted to roast a chicken. It's one of those meals that grounds me. After traveling to Mali, coming home with a bad cold, visits with out-of-town friends, my many meals out, I was desperate to get cooking again. My friend Virginia Willis calls chickens Gospel Birds (follow that link to find two other recipes including citrus) because they were a traditional Sunday after-church meal.

I had Indian spices on my mind, so here's what I did: Washed and patted dry a chicken we got on sale at Whole Foods. I mixed some homemade Punjabi Garam Masala and canola oil and rubbed that bird all over, let it sit a couple hours in the fridge. To make your own garam masala see Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries or simply buy his new spice blends, here.

When the oven was pre heating (to 375) I sliced orange and lemon wedges and about half a red onion and placed those in the cavity. Tied its legs and folded the wing tips under, then roasted for about half an hour in a small roasting pan with a little water in the bottom. After that first half hour or 40 minutes, I tossed lemon halves, orange wedges, ginger, garlic and a large carrot chopped up into the roasting pan. Once or twice I poured the accumulated juices into a bowl and basted the chicken with it.

While the chicken rested, I poured the pan juices into a grease separator, deglazed the pan with a little saké, added the juice and zest of half an orange went into a pan sauce, along with some citrus champagne vinegar, and the de-greased pan juices. No butter, no flour, just a slightly reduced citrusy pan sauce.

We had white rice (I was out of basmati~!) with aloo gobhi (another simple and satisfying Indian dish - potatoes, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, simmered in tomato and spices). The aloo gobhi came together while the chicken was roasting. Another meal, I made Kathy Gori's Spinach Pachadi, basmati rice and mulligatawny soup.

As our niece Ennyn says "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy."

2. Make a citrus aioli or mayonnaise.

A little Meyer Lemon is a wonderful thing in some mayo. Even if you're just using it for workaday sandwiches, the extra punch of lemon zest in the mayo is divine. Be sure to get organic lemons and oranges so the zest is free of chemicals. A microplane grater makes quick work of zesting.

 

3. Infuse some vodka.

We have a batch of vodka sitting with lovely strips of Citron. I should've shot some photos but totally forgot. Citron is wild. It looks like a gigantic lemon. I used my vegetable peeler to remove thin strips of zest without pith (the spongy bitter white portion of citrus). Then, I cut into the Citron to squeeze out about a Tablespoon of juice. Really, in that whole thing, that was all there was!

 

4. Enjoy some sustainable seafood.

 

  • Slice lemon or orange slices in some en papillote preparation.
  • Make a ceviche with scallops, squid, poblano, aji amarillo, kumquats and citrus.

 

Here's the ceviche completed:

 

Que RRRRico!

 

5. Lemon Ginger Quinoa.

I had one meal of some leftover Chinese food (dao miu - pea tendrils, and tofu). I just needed a little something but I was too hungry to wait for rice! Quinoa to the rescue. If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you really should. I am giving you one last chance with this easy recipe. It's DONE in less than half an hour!

 

Dead-easy Recipe: Lemon Ginger quinoa recipe

Instructions:

 

  1. Rinse white quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve. The little berries (yes, they are fruits of the quinoa plant, not actually a grain) are coated with saponin which while it won't hurt you, tastes soapy. I'm convinced most folks who have had a bad quinoa experience have simply had quinoa that wasn't rinsed.
  2. Place quinoa and water in a small pot. Add a slice of fresh ginger root and a wedge of Meyer Lemon. I think orange would work just as well. Whatever your measure of quinoa is, simply add twice the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and pop a lid on it.
  3. Check in 20 minutes to see if water has absorbed. Stir a few times and your quinoa will be done when the little grains unfurl and the water is absorbed.
Enjoy. The advantage of quinoa in addition to its quick cooking time is that it is better for you nutritionally (calcium, protein, minerals) and adds protein to the plate. Zero fat, just good flavor.
Leftover quinoa can be added to or substituted for your morning oatmeal.

  • What are your favorite ways to eat or cook with citrus?
  • Drop a comment and win a package of Raghavan Iyer's Garam Masala. (Have a look at these gorgeous photos and lovely article on The Heavy Table blog.)
  • I'll use the random number generator to pick from our comments. Contest closes 5 PM Wednesday February 29th!

 

Fish Fraud Expose in Boston Globe Sparks Conversation

This morning the Boston Globe ran part one of a two-part exposé on fish fraud (Diners Order One Fish, Get Another), including this video. This issue is not new, and not limited to Boston. As an iconic coastal city, Boston has long been associated with good, fresh seafood. Are consumers getting what they pay for? It seems in many cases, the answer is no.

With the growing awareness of food safety issues, traceability is a word on the lips of many diners. Sourcing local food, including local fish here in New England, is very important as well.

In a British hospitality survey of 2,000 diners 90% said they wanted to be served only sustainable seafood when they dine out.
But, nearly three-quarters said they themselves did not know which species were near extinction.

I tell chefs this is upside for them. Diners want your help and want to rely on your expertise to help them make better choices. Like it or not, this piece in the Globe piece puts chefs and servers squarely in the cross-hairs as a probably unintended, but no less real, consequence will have diners asking point-blank "How do I know this cod is really cod?"

Bad information can confuse and numerous names fish go by can obfuscate. Chef Ming Tsai has been a leader in advocating for transparency in allergy information. He's a trusted chef in many ways. The Globe piece might be read to infer bad motive to his use of the name "butterfish" for sablefish. In fact, sablefish is often called by various names, including Butterfish. It is not a fish that is overfished nor threatened by overfishing. This naming issue is sometimes dishonest and often not. I trust Ming Tsai and I know sablefish is one I often recommend. Readers here will know that "Orange Roughy" was originally called Slimehead and Chilean Seabass is not a bass at all but Patagonian Toothfish.Tsai's use of the name Butterfish for Sablefish is a far cry from selling Vietnamese Catfish in place of Grouper.

I applaud the Globe piece for bringing to light some of the myriad issues restaurateurs face when trying to source and sell seafood. The St Petersburg Times ran a story on Florida Grouper fraud in 2006 and the New York Times ran a piece in 2008 and another earlier this year on fish fraud uncovered in numerous ways. We must all strive for accuracy and be vigilant about transparency to advance the cause for consumers.

Who Else Suffers?

Who else is hurt by the ongoing fraud and lack of transparency in the field? Fishermen. Our local fishermen have struggled between the challenges of regulations (shifting, sometimes unfair, sometimes just burdensome even if fair) and competition by large trawling factories, by foreign imports like catfish.

When fishermen lose their way of life, the very coastal cities that draw painters, poets, and important tourist dollars change. We are in very real danger of having our fishing ports become museum artifacts and theme park memorials to a lifestyle that once defined New England.

Who else suffers? Local economies. Tourism will not take the place of fishing for the families of cities like Gloucester.

Who benefits?

The unscrupulous purveyors and middlemen who mark up fish and mislabel cheap imports as more expensive species.

Restaurateurs who turn a blind eye to the "deal" they're getting, never demanding traceability are responsible for perpetuating this "wink, wink" sort of business practice. If they demanded traceability the unscrupulous purveyors would have to change their ways. As one person said in the Florida Grouper Scandal, if you're buying a Mercedes for 10K you can't be surprised to learn it's not really a Mercedes.

The politicians pandering for local votes by politicizing the issue to their own benefit are not helping matters either.

From Vancouver to New Brunswick, New Orleans to Alaska, I have spoken with fishermen and those they support. I am stunned at how often the questions I get are about the vitriol of the dialog here. It's not about the actual issues, it's the lack of open dialog that mystifies people. We must move beyond blaming the regulators, demonizing conservationists, and pointing fingers all around.

Moving Toward Solutions - Teach a Chef to Fish Workshop

For five years I have run an online event called Teach a Man to Fish. It's a virtual potluck where bloggers, food writers, cookbook authors, home cooks and restaurateurs share recipes, info, tips, resources and questions about the very real challenges, and joys, of cooking with sustainable seafood. Two years ago, I began running workshops for chefs alerting them to the growing consumer demand and awareness. In the Teach a Chef to Fish workshops (attended by Jose Duarte, Andy Husbands, Matt Jennings and Myers + Chang, among others), I share a framework for understanding these complex issues. I also point to resources geared specifically for the professional kitchen.

There are many ways for chefs and restaurants to bolster their knowledge, their training and their sourcing options. I package it in a workshop that delivers an approach to these issues in a one hour discussion.

 

"In an hour, Jacqueline took the dizzying library of information that exists concerning sustainability and eco-responsibility, and she distilled it down to a meaningful and consumable truth: think, care, and do your level best to be a careful and vigilant purveyor of seafood. Better, to be a more careful and gentle human being. And rather than leaving the seminar punch drunk, we were energized to learn more and to help realize a better future for not only the diners of tomorrow but their children, as well."

Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers, Myers + Chang, Flour Bakery & Cafe

 

Please contact me to schedule one for your restaurant. At LDGourmet [a] gmail [dot] com.

 

Good place to start: two New Cookbooks

Becky Selengut's Good Fish

 

and Barton Seaver's For Cod & Country are two I highly recommend.

And a Non-cookbook Book

Mark Kurlansky's A World Without Fish is a sort of graphic novel approach to teaching the basics. Good for kids of all ages.

Fish Fraud in the News

Cooking with Kids

This is the fifth year of my sustainable seafood focus and I'm turning my attention to cooking with kids. Creating the next generation of sustainable seafood advocates and conscious cooks is something that we need to be focusing on before we end up a world without fish. A distinct possibility.

We'll kick off another round of the TM2F virtual potluck and teach-in, shortly. For now, peruse last year's wrap up (this year, I included resources in the wrap up rather than breaking it out separately) and get your cookbooks and thinking caps on. Here's my Sustainable Seafood resource guide from a prior year.

Don't forget we have a wealth of resources here including, Australis Barramundi (healthy farmed fish), the New England Aquarium, the Herring Alliance, the Chefs Collaborative and more.

And always vote with your dollars by dining at restaurants like Turner Fisheries, who openly feature sustainable seafood and willingly discuss choices they're making and why.

BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Swordfish with Grilled Fennel and Tomatoes

Our BBQ Bonanza continues this week with a sustainable seafood lesson. If you have ever tried to figure out what makes a fish choice sustainable, you might have felt that choosing fish is anything but a walk on the beach. Our guest poster this week is the inimitable Amy McCoy, who was inspired by a much-needed tumble in the waves of Block Island.

photo by Denise Woodward, ChezUs.com

 

I will never forget Amy's hilarious post three years ago about DIY Turkey in a Hole in the Ground. Since then, she's become a published cookbook author. Her Poor Girl Gourmet makes a perfect housewarming gift for your niece or nephew just setting up their own apartment. I incorporated her Chicken in Cider Gravy recipe in my Sustainable Meats Class. It always pleases.

Amy brings us a swordfish recipe inspired by local Block Island swordfish. Her sensible approach to sustainability is one that's near and dear to my heart. Here's a post with five tips for making Small Steps that Make a Difference.

 

 

Amy is the author of “Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget” (Andrews McMeel, 2010), and the blog Poor Girl Gourmet, where she shares budget-friendly recipes, tales (sometimes of woe) of raising chickens and turkeys, keeping bees, and particularly woeful this year, gardening (Blight! Chipmunks! Squash bugs!).

Amy was scheduled to speak about eating on a budget at the International Food Blogger Conference in New Orleans, LA on August 28 (curse you Irene!), and her recipes and writing have appeared in many newspapers across the country.

_____________________________________________

Block Island Swordfish with Fennel and Tomato

Guest post by Amy McCoy

Fish has been stressing me out for a few years now. And I say this without so much as a hint of hyperbole; such a worrier am I.

I want to eat fish, but I want to do the right thing. I don’t want the oceans depleted, and, quite honestly, pulling out a chart that delineates what’s okay to eat and what isn’t takes a little of the joy out of fish eating. And what I like most about food – the making and sharing of food – is the joy of it all.

So stressed I have been.

But then I read a few words of wisdom from fellow BBQ Bonanza contributor, Mark Scarbrough, that boiled down to this: calm down, make good choices, and enjoy yourself some fish, already, darn it.

So I stopped with the stress (sometimes it only takes one slap to snap me out of it). And decided to apply a trusted mantra to fish shopping: Buy local.

Fortunately, living in southeastern Massachusetts, local isn’t too far away – generally less than an hour by car, and sometimes, it’s an additional 13 miles by ferry. If a jaunt to Block Island is in order. Oh, which it was this past week. Which it was.

Block Island is a quaint, well-preserved Victorian-era village surrounded by rolling hills dotted with stonewalls and stunning golden cliffs rising up above its beaches. The water is colder than on the mainland (of course), and if you aren’t careful, you may find yourself smacked down to the sandy shore by a giant wave. It’s a lot easier to get smacked down and find the wave giant if you’re short. Not that this happened to me, um, two days ago, or anything.

It also happens to be quite the swordfish harvesting ground, with “BI Swordfish” signs posted at local fish markets - on the mainland as well as the island - causing glee at the mere sight (and angst-free glee at that, for it is local). And that’s all before you’ve laid eyes on the fish.

As it happens, harpoon and hand line swordfish are both “best choices” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide (okay, so I checked my chart – I admit it. There’s still some guilt, despite my best efforts at being effortless in fish shopping).

Back home with my Block Island swordfish, I decided to add homegrown fennel and tomatoes (it doesn’t get much more local than your own backyard – and it helps to keep the cost down, too), grill ‘em up, then add the grilled veggies to a pan of sautéed shallots with white wine, crushed red pepper flakes, and oregano (which is also homegrown, and threatens to overrun our property, prolific as it is) for a rich, yet summery sauce.

Swordfish with Grilled Fennel and Tomatoes

Serves 4

 

  • 1 pound swordfish steak, approximately 1-inch thick
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed of fronds, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch wedges.
  • 4 medium tomatoes (approximately 2 pounds), sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

 

For the sauce:

 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

 

  1. Be sure that your grill is clean, and has been lightly oiled. Preheat the grill to medium high.
  2. Toss the fennel and tomatoes in a medium mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush the swordfish all over with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the fennel and tomatoes on the grill, and grill until they are lightly charred and the tomato skins are beginning to peel, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Remove the fennel and tomatoes from the grill. Using a fork or tongs, remove and discard the tomato skin.
  6. Before starting the swordfish on the grill – or simultaneously, if you are fortunate enough to have a side burner on your grill – start the sauce.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, and cook until it is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fennel, tomatoes and any accumulated juices, then add the crushed red pepper flakes and oregano. Next, pour in the wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Place the swordfish on the grill, flipping midway through the cooking time, and grill it until it is opaque and is easily cut with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  9. Remove the swordfish from the grill, then cut it into 4 more-or-less equal sized pieces. Place the swordfish pieces in the saucepan, and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the swordfish forth, topped with sauce.

 

This dish goes well with grilled potatoes, and can also be served stew-style: I recommend toasting (on the grill, of course) a slice of country bread, rubbing the bread with garlic, then placing it into a bowl and topping with fish and sauce. No guilt there at all, I can assure you. Only glee.

 

 

Great News from Our Sponsors


 



...is giving away another set of their terrific barbecue sauces (exclusively available for us); each winner will receive:

  • one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork);
  • one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy);
  • and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).

 

Comment on BBQ Bonanza August posts also enter you to win Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything. (Even includes recipes for goat! Donuts, I kid you not, and scallops with grapefruit mojo. Really there ARE recipes for grilling everything!)

 

 

The good people at OXO have graciously added this Four Piece Grilling Set to our August Contest!

 

How to win one of these THREE prizes:

  1. Enter a comment in any August BBQ Bonanza post.
  2. Write your own post on the theme of Sustainability at the Grill and link back here. You'll get a second entry!
  3. Hit the Silk Road! Find the phony location of a Silk Road yurt, post the true and the false locations in your comment here, and gain another chance to win.
  4. Tweet, RT (#BBQBonanza), post to Facebook.

 

BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Salt block grilled Salmon with Basil Butter

Photo credit: Denise Woodward, Chez Us

BBQ Bonanza continues with this our fifth guest post. The theme this year, our second, is Sustainability at the Grill. I thought it would be fun to see what our guest posters would come up with -- I have not been disappointed. I began this year's kickoff post with this:

"You're standing at your barbecue grill with a package of hot dogs and you're wondering "why don't I do something more original?" Or maybe you're thinking about where the beef in your burgers came from..."

Our guest poster this week touches on our theme by sharing her awakening to issues of sustainability when she moved from Chilean Sea Bass to wild Alaskan Salmon, and discovered her connection to the issue. I share her desire to treat the planet, not as if we inherited it from the previous generation; but rather, as if we borrowed it from the next.

Later this year, I'll be hosting the 5th annual Teach a Man to Fish - sustainable seafood event anniversary with cooking classes for kids. My hope is to build the next generation of ocean stewards and conscious cooks.

Denise is half of the blogging couple, Chez Us "she cooks, he devours", that counts as half, right Lenny? Her stories are lovely and the photos, even better. The photo above which I nabbed for our bonanza badge was taken by Denise and you may have seen her winning entry in Saveur Magazine - gorgeous! Read on and you'll see why these folks became good friends - thoughtful, delicious, beautiful - what more can I say but thank you? And enjoy!

Salt block grilled Copper River Salmon with Basil Butter

Guest Post: Denise Woodward, Chez Us

Summer is the ultimate grilling season. It doesn't matter where you may live, or the culture you come from, summer and grilling go hand-in-hand. Every season I chuckle to myself as I light up the grill for our first cookout; why don't we take advantage and do it more often throughout the year? Besides the obvious that food just tastes really good when it comes off the grill, it is also social and inviting, not to mention, minimal clean-up. We are lucky living in the Bay Area as our seasons are mild and we can take advantage. But, we still don't. We save our sacred recipes for a few precious months and then we tuck them away until the next year. Maybe it is a comfort thing, or maybe some habits are just hard to break.

I was thrilled when our friend Jackie asked us to join her for BBQ Bonanza 2011 as we had a great time last year exploring Mastering The Grill last summer. When I said yes, I could not wait to see what delicious cookbook she was going to expose us too. Little did I know she would be asking us to write about a topic that is true to her heart: sustainability.

The first time I "really" realized that I needed to try to make a difference in my eating lifestyle was some 20 years ago when I approached my fishmonger to purchase some Chilean Sea Bass. I had been enjoying it weekly, even thought I was on a beer budget. As my eyes searched the case hungrily for it, I was told it was no longer available. I made a joke about the fisherman not being able to find it. He came back saying that was absolutely true. I walked home with a bag of pasta and thought long and deep (no pun intended there) about what was happening. How could this happen? How could we be so careless? Overfishing our oceans? It was criminal.

When I think about sustainability, common sense comes to mind. Kind of like ... you leave your house, you turn off the lights and shut the door; excessive behaviors will result in a diminishment of luxuries. Just like that Chilean sea bass.  I took advantage of eating something so delicious, every week, and soon it was not available to me. We try to eat sustainably in our home by asking questions, such as where our food is coming from? How did it come to us? Could we make a better choice? Also by eating seasonally. Do we really need bright red strawberries in the middle of February, when they have been put on a plane from Peru just to land on my table?

We try to do our part. We are only two people, a small speck actually, but we try. We have to, as we want the younger generations, such as our nieces, nephews and MEM to grow into fine adults who care; who have a planet to live on, a planet to grow their families on. If we don't try, who will?


We recently received a lovely package of gorgeous fresh caught Copper River Salmon. Granted it does have to board a flight to get to us; but, the fish is harvested sustainably. The salmon from the Copper River is special, it really doesn't taste like any salmon I have eaten. It is smooth, creamy and full of omega 3s. I tucked away a pound of the king salmon for a special occasion. I could not think of a better time to use it than now. One of my favorite ways to grill salmon is using a whole salmon. I stuff it full of fresh basil, lemon, red onion, butter and some white wine; then I grill it.

It is a delicious way to celebrate summer and the grilling season. Since I was not lucky enough to have a whole salmon, I made my recipe a bit differently this time. I seasoned the salmon with a little black pepper and then cooked it over hot coals, on top of a chunk of Himalayan Salt. The salt distributes heat evenly while lightly seasoning the fish. If you don't have a salt plate, grill the fish as you normally would.

Then, I made a compound butter using fresh basil, lemon zest, shallots and a little white wine. Right before taking the salmon off the grill, I put some of the compound butter on top. The slow heat that was left in the grill as well as the smoke wrapped around the salmon and butter, creating a very moist and flavorful piece of fish. Simple. Sustainable.

Recipe:  Grilled Salmon with Basil Butter


Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of sustainably caught salmon
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 stick high quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, optional
  • kosher salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl mash the butter with a fork, until creamy.  Add the seasonings.  Stir to combine.
  2. Roll the butter into a log using parchment paper.  Put into the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the grill to 350.  Lightly oil the salmon and season with pepper.
  4. Grill the fish until almost cooked.  5 minutes before removing from the grill, slice the butter into slices and evenly space on top of the salmon.
  5. Cover the grill with the lid and continue to cook for the last couple minutes.

Serve.  Eat.

BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:

 

 

 

Giveaway Rules:

We'll be giving away three Silk Road BBQ Sauce Trios. One trio will be given away in each month: July (congrats, Jenni!), August, and September.

Each winner will receive: one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork); one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy); and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).

 

Enter to win:

1. Add a comment on any of the BBQ Bonanza posts. I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner from that month's comments.

2. Add a post on your own blog - c'mon, you know you're grilling! - and link back to one of the BBQ Bonanza posts that inspired you. Let me know which one and you earn another shot. I'll link back, too!

3. Bonus entry: answer to this question and gain another entry in the drawing: Which of the sites on the Silk Road BBQ website is NOT a current, actual location of one of their yurts?

 

Second Sponsor for August:

For the month of August, we are thrilled to add a second sponsor: OXO! OXO joins the BBQ Bonanza family, graciously offering this groovy and practical four piece grilling tool set. Groovy and practical, isn't that their sweet spot?

These tools have long handles (safely keeping your arms away from the heat. They feature retractable hanging hooks, durable stainless steel tools with comfortable beech wood grips, and the silicone basting brush incorporates OXO’s patented design to prevent marinades from sliding off bristles. I can tell you from personal experience, once you've used an Oxo kitchen tool, nothing else compares. The other basting brushes in my house are lonely, pressed into service only when two separate things are being basted or when my Oxo brush is in the dishwasher. Tongs lock, too. They really think of everything.

 

Remember all you have to do to enter is drop a comment on any August BBQ Bonanza post, and extra entries can be yours, simply share the link love (see above).

We want to know what you're grilling and how you incorporate sustainability at the grill.

Now go on, fire it up!

Resources:

 

 

 

Don't forget, BBQ & Grilling love this month also includes a chance to win:

Your comments on any BBQ Bonanza post in August enter you to win Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything. Even includes recipes for goat!

 

BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Channel Catfish with Chili Coconut Glaze

photo credit: Denise Woodward

Recently I've been reading books like Mark Kurlansky's A World without Fish and Paul Greenberg's Four Fish. Both men write persuasively and eloquently about the ocean. They speak of fishing, Kurlansky with his daughter and Greenberg as a boy, and connect us to a time of innocence, now lost in the often contentious world of ocean conservation. I sometimes get sad and frankly a little frustrated when I'm attacked for bringing up the S word: sustainability.

What I want most is to get to solutions that work and systems that enable the future fishermen to take their children out for a day of snorkeling or fishing, to have their children inherit their fishing boats and to have that be a viable choice. To imagine oceans teaming with healthy fish populations and to have sane fisheries management that enables them to thrive: sometimes seems impossible. Solutions can be hard to come by. Too often, it's "us against them" thinking that takes over.

*sigh*

Can we just kick back, pop a cold one, and fire up the grill? Can we do it without guilt if we're grilling fish?

Yes. Yes we can.

I Love Blue Sea is a company that was borne of the same fondness for the sea and a desire to re-think how we do things. In this case, entrepreneurial thinking and personal longing for fresh, sustainable fish spurred Martin Reed to create a company to fill in the gap he saw between sustainable purveyors and conscientious cooks. Now, with a couple of clicks you can experience sparkling fresh seafood that's shipped to your door. They even take care with packaging to use soy based inks and recyclable materials where possible. Remember, our theme for BBQ Bonanza this year is Sustainability at the Grill.

 

When I read Martin's guest post, I thought of Kurlansky and Greenberg starting with their own innocent fishing days. When you speak with Martin (read my post Sustainable Seafood Delivered: I Love Blue Sea makes a Splash), you sense his love for the ocean. With clear vision and a reassuring smile, he makes the business of sustainable seafood seem more than possible, he makes it real.

 

In that same way, he takes a beautiful sustainable fish and shows us anyone can enjoy it grilled with an easy sauce. No fussy stuff here, so kick back and enjoy a guilt-free grilled fish.

Channel Catfish with Sweet Chili Coconut Glaze

Guest post: Martin Reed, founder ILoveBlueSea.com

I fell in love with fish as a young boy when I caught my first out of the icy waters of San Francisco Bay. This love grew to include sushi, surfing and finally to the great body of water that produces these magnificent species – our ocean. The past five decades have seen catastrophic decline in ocean life as we’ve cleverly found ways to outsmart fish in a battle first waged many moons ago. Boats the size of football fields fish for months at a time in areas inaccessible just one generation ago.

So maybe you know this, and try to support sustainable seafood – but it’s not always easy is it? The NY Times recently revealed 20 - 25% of fish is mislabeled intentionally. My passion is to change that and make sustainable seafood easy transparent and convenient. With the purpose of restoring trust to fishmongers, I started i love blue sea.  Browse 120+ types of sustainable seafood online and enjoy sushi-quality fresh fish anywhere in the US. We’re a partner of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, and they just named us a ‘2011 Seafood Champion!’  OK, okay enough about us. Let’s talk catfish.

Catfish?

Yup, if you haven’t had domestic farm-raised catfish, hold your judgment.  Most catfish is raised in Asia and is not something I would buy either. Our Channel Catfish is raised in closed-containment ponds in Louisiana. They are primarily vegetarian so they have a favorable feed conversion ratio. This means it takes less than one pound of wild fish to create one pound of catfish. This is a net gain in protein - not something all farmed fish can claim.

I’m still pretty new to the world of gourmet cooking so I’ve been trying lots of new ingredients. Right now, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with oils. So this recipe uses three. I recently found coconut butter and sometimes sneak a spoonful before bedtime. It’s that good.

Obviously, feel free to use oils interchangeably here based on what’s in the cupboard.

 

Channel catfish with sweet chili coconut glaze

Ingredients:

 

  • Channel Catfish Fillets - about 1/2 to 3/4 lb per person.
  • Peanut oil
  • Your choice of seasonal vegetables for the grill (how about onions, peppers, and baby eggplants? Bok Choy?)

 

Directions:

 

  1. Brush fillet with peanut oil to prevent sticking to hot grill
  2. Put veggies on to grill.
  3. When veggies are about halfway done, add fish to grill.

 

Sauce:

 

  • Blend 2 parts coconut butter, 1 part hot water and 1 part sweet chili sauce (I like Mae Ploy).
  • Splash a streak or two of Sriracha across the plate if you want a little spice.

I devoured the dish before I thought to do this. Serve with:

 

Mixed summer veggies with Canadian flair

 

  • Buy some local, seasonal vegetables at your favorite market cut into whatever shape just feels right.
  • Toss with sesame oil and Montréal steak seasoning to taste. Olive oil also works really well.
  • Throw on the grill and flip a few times till satisfied.

 

 

Previous Guest Posts in BBQ Bonanza '11

❶ Pulled Pork Tacos - Sharon Miro

❷ Squid with Tamarind & Orange - Becky Selengut

❸ Goat Skewers with Vinegary Herb Sauce - Mark Scarbrough & Bruce Weinstein


 

❦ ❦ ❦

BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:

Click on the logo to visit their site.

❦ ❦ ❦

 

 

 

 

BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Grilled Squid with Tamarind and Orange

Since our theme for BBQ Bonanza 2011 is Sustainability at the Grill, you knew we'd feature some seafood, right? And you know my rule of sensual, sensible, sustainability: first, it has to taste good, then we have to be able to afford it and also we want to be able to consume it without guilt. This recipe sails through with flying colors on all three counts.

This our second guest post is by my friend, author, chef, wiseacre and sustainability soldier: Becky Selengut. Her new book is gorgeous, inspiring and dying to come live on your bookshelf.

I love what Becky is about, how she cooks, her razor sharp wit and her joie de vivre. Joie de Vivre sounds a little too white-gloves-and-party-manners, though. She's one of those women that we used to call "a great broad." Something I aspire to be. Smart and quick, a good drinker and a good sport. My Journalism prof in school wanted me to pursue writing and described me as very similar to his favorite journalist, a great broad by the name of Joan if memory serves. Wonder what the current equivalent of "a great broad" is? Hmm...

Anyway, I knew that if Becky agreed to a guest post, we'd get a fun, salty story. She doesn't disappoint.

Photo credit: Clare Barboza


Calamari or Squid and Hypocrites

Guest Post: Becky Selengut

When I told my friend I was including squid recipes in my book, she wrinkled her nose and gave me a judgy look. “Have you even tried squid?” I asked, my eyebrows hitting the ceiling as I mustered my most condescending expression. “Ick. Never,” she said, “though there was once some calamari I had in the Riviera that I looooved.”

I blinked 4 times in pained, slow motion succession.

“You realize squid and calamari are the same thing, dumbass” I said.  “No,” she countered, “they’re not. Squid is disgusting and calamari is Italian and Awesome.”

I couldn’t even be bothered to blink at that, so I just stared at her until my eyes dried up and fell out.

Whether you call it squid or calamari matters not in how fabulous it is, marinated in a spicy, gingery and tart tamarind bath and then quickly caramelized on a hot grill.  Squid is a low cost and sustainable seafood option and a ridiculously simple dinner.  To your friends who claim they don’t have time to cook or can’t afford going out to restaurants I say: grab a few chunks of wood briquettes, a kettle grill and a pound of squid.  While you can substitute lemon for the bright acidity of tamarind, most supermarkets carry it these days and it really does give the squid a unique depth, so don’t be lazy.

Feed this to your judgy friend and gloat while she chokes on her Eurocentric hypocrisy.

Grilled squid (calamari) with tamarind and orange

Primum non nocere. First, do no harm. All medical students are taught this, and I am of the opinion that it should also be taught in culinary schools. In medicine, sometimes the cure can do more damage than the sickness, and similarly, overzealous culinary students and chefs can sometimes do more damage to food than if they had simply let the poor ingredient be. I’m a big fan of sauce, don’t get me wrong, but some foods shine the brightest when prepared the most simply. Great ingredients don’t require heroic culinary interventions.

Serves 4

1 teaspoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced Serrano chile (seeds left in)

1 orange (1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound squid bodies, cleaned* – skin removed

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

Maldon or gray salt as optional garnish

 

Mix together shallot, ginger, serrano, orange zest, orange juice, tamarind, salt and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over squid bodies and marinate for 30 minutes.  Heat a grill over high heat (you could also do this on a grill pan).  When the grill is very hot, oil the grates well and lay 1/2 the squid on the grates.  Weigh down immediately with a cast iron skillet (or similar heavy heat-proof pan). Grill for 1 1/2 minutes until you see grill marks. Flip and weigh again with skillet and grill for another 30 seconds to a minute.  Remove and repeat < script src="plugins/editors/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"> with the rest of the squid.

Lay the grilled squid out on a small platter and drizzle the rest of the extra virgin olive oil over the top. Squeeze some more orange juice over the top and sprinkle the mint and some Maldon or gray sea salt over the pieces of squid.

Wine pairing: An Albariño, such as Abacela 2009, Umpqua Valley, Oregon, or a Grüner Veltliner

 

*Go to www.goodfishbook.com for a video demonstration of cleaning whole squid.

Recipe from Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast (Sasquatch 2011)

Chef Becky Selengut, www.CornucopiaCuisine.com, www.chefreinvented.com

You can support an indie writer (me), an indie bookstore (Powell's) and a great chef (Becky.) Click on the cover to buy.

 

➊ Check out our first BBQ Bonanza '11 guest post: Vinegary Herbed Goat Skewers, by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein, authors of Goat: Meat, Milk Cheese.

❦ ❦ ❦

BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:

Click on the logo to visit their site.

❦ ❦ ❦

 

 

 

Salmon Farming: Better than Beef?

 

This data is being widely proclaimed from the rooftops, to Seafood Source.com, etc. etc. And while it may be accurate, I think it's also a bit misleading. Aquaculture as an industry is certainly here to stay but once again they offer a statement comparing beef to salmon in terms of food conversion. This gets further reduced to the headline "Salmon is more efficient to farm than Beef." Wow, everyone now wants to eat farmed salmon, right?

Let's unpack the assumptions:
a) that the fish going into salmon feed would not be consumed by people.
This is a handy assumption and perhaps the market is underdeveloped but I"m pretty sure starving people around the world would NOT turn their noses up at this source of protein, IF given the chance. The real issue is that the MARKET for feeding poor people is not a lucrative one. No government or private agency is stepping up to say "we'll pay for this fish and feed people with it." The market IS there for aquaculture.
b) that we are comparing apples to apples.
In fact, beef don't eat beef. Or shouldn't. Are we talking about industrial feedlot confined feeding operations or pasture-raised beef? Those conversion rates would look quite different, I believe, as would the impacts of those operations on the environment. CAFO farms are environmental nightmares. Downstream waste has been demonstrated as the likely source of at least two e.coli outbreaks. Sustainable pasture farms are not environmental nightmares. In fact, in proper balance, pathogens in the soil behind ruminants (not fed antibiotics to offset the health problems from feeding them corn and soy which they are not evolved to digest) is broken up by chickens. The pathogen cycle is broken.
Also, the data is preliminary but it appears that fish poop actually offsets the impacts of our industrial activity on land and "plays a key role in buffering the carbon dioxide that acidifies seawater." It helps mitigate climate change. But no fish means no fish poop. And less fish means less poop to offset the negative impacts of our land-based industry. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16432-fish-an-ally-against-climate-change.html

So the fish that are removed to feed farmed fish, are not able to help absorb the C02 from our emissions, including those of farming. 

So are we comparing the type of salmon farming that operates as best-in-class against the worst CAFOs? What would this look like if we compared the much larger and more onerous industrial salmon farms as in Chile as against Joel Salatin style farm? We must be clear about WHAT is being compared to WHAT.

c) that we are feeding the world with aquaculture:
when I asked the salmon farm advocates in NB how they could back that statement, and specifically whether hungry nations are being fed this salmon - the answer, of course, was no. It's a very weak argument that doesn't connect dots but an uncritical ear hears "world hunger" and "salmon farm" as if the latter were the answer to the former. Ask them how. Doesn't compute.
Will aquaculture play a role in feeding the world? Undoubtedly.
Is it now a significant source of developed nations' seafood supply? Absolutely.
Can it be done in more environmentally sound ways? YES.
Is SALMON the best species to farm? Doubt it.
Are open oceans the best way to do it? Probably not.
We must look to set international standards for land-based closed containment aquaculture of the SPECIES that have been successfully grown w/o a NET LOSS to the oceans.
That is bigger and much more complex question than simply "Farmed salmon is better (more efficient) than beef."

 

Mediterranean Mussels & Farro

Maria Speck has given us a great gift; her book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals takes whole grains out of the realm of should and into the province of want. Going from "I know I should eat more of these" to "That looks great - more, please?" is no small feat with something like grains. Whole grains sort of have a small PR problem. If whole grains were a Hollywood starlet, she might be advised to do something slightly naughty to catch a headline. Maybe she could date a bad boy just to get noticed?

Grains have been the culinary equivalent of your plump Auntie, beloved yes, but not one to inspire covetous fantasy. Or, they've been like that Deadhead roommate you once had, who ate everything in shades of gray and brown and dressed the same. All patchouli, unshaven, draped in Indian prints; her Dr Bronner's soap seemed more inspired and flavorful than the food she ate.

With Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Maria Speck gives grains a saucy makeover. From drab to fab, the enticing recipes and gorgeous photos will actually have you skeptics thinking "Hm, I should try this."

Click the image to order from my Powell's Bookshelf. Follow Maria on Twitter @MariaSpeck.

 

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Sara Remington © 2011

 

✔ Remember these 5 Tips for combining a healthy Mediterranean Diet with Gluten-Free eating? Some of those tips can apply here - though Farro is not GF. For example, Tip #3: Cook once, eat often: you can make a large batch of farro ahead of time and then prepared farro can be quickly combined with a salad or tossed into a soup on any harried weeknight.

 

PEI Mussels Share the Spotlight with Saucy Grains

Malpeque Harbor, Prince Edward Island Malpeque-wm Just back from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, I'm inspired to incorporate more seafood into our diet. I'm especially fond of the mussels and oysters from PEI. Having a taste of something plucked from the place it grows offers an unparalleled taste memory. Ropes of these beauties reminded me of jewelry. [recipe and giveaway after the break - read on!] mussels

 

Did you know: Mussels are an excellent lean protein, high in Omega 3s, Vitamin B12 and iron, they're also low in fat. From a sustainability standpoint, mussels are an excellent choice. They grow on ropes (no sand!) and harvesting doesn't damage the habitat. They're filter-feeders so they actually clean their environment.

In this recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Mussels are paired with farro and Mediterranean flair.

 

Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine

Serves 3 or 4 as a light main course, or 4 to 6 as a starter

Farro

  • 11/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Stew

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery stalks (1 to 2 pieces)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 11/2 cups dry white wine
  • 11/2 cups chopped fresh or diced canned tomatoes with their juices, (one 14-ounce can)
  • 11/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

To finish

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. To prepare the farro, bring the water, farro, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, drain any remaining liquid, and set aside.

2. While the farro simmers, rinse the mussels under cold running water, brushing to remove sand and residue on the shells. Remove the beards (hairy clumps around the shell) with tweezers or a sharp knife. Discard chipped mussels. Tap any open mussels and discard if they don’t close. Set the cleaned mussels aside.

3. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, the bay leaves, chile, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add 1/4 cup of the white wine, and cook until syrupy and the liquid is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the water, the remaining 11/4 cups white wine, the pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar.

4. Add the mussels and the farro together with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and steam over medium to medium-high heat, shaking the pot once or twice in between, until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and discard any unopened mussels.

5. To finish, add the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Drizzle the mussels with the olive oil and serve right away in deep plates, garnished with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side.

To get a head start:

Make the farro, as in step 1, ahead (see page 23). The stew, as in step 3, can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Reheat before adding the mussels and farro, as in step 4. The mussels should be bought the day they are cooked. For a speedy, light dish, omit the farro altogether, and do not add the water to the stew.

To vary it:

Easily available and affordable pearl barley plumps up nicely to compete with farro in this dish, or simply use leftover brown rice. You will need about 2 cups cooked grain (for cooking instructions, see page 25).

maria_mussels200Maria's Mediterranean Mussels

 

Giveaway

I love grains with fish. Two simple things together often elevate each other, such is the case with grains and seafood. What is your favorite grain?

Leave a comment with your favorite way to make grains sexy and you will be automatically entered to win a copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.

✦ Alternatively, if you're new to cooking with grains, you may leave a question or a recipe request and also be entered to win!

 

Ed. note: as a Twitter follower pointed out, rather tactlessly, my original title included the words "Meatless Monday" and that would be false as this recipe does contain a non-plant protein. She was "embarrassed for me," so to spare her further trauma, I removed the offending "species-ist" wording. Indeed, this recipe would be wonderful minus the mussels for purists. And, would also be a step toward more sustainable protein for those taking steps toward a truly meat-free Monday. May we all dine with more forgiving and pleasant company.

Valentine for the Sea

Sending out Valentine's e-cards from Monterey Bay Aquarium I saw one with an octopus "stuck on you." It reminded me of my experience up close with a live Pacific octopus aboard the Organic Ocean boat in Vancouver. In one trap an octopus had found a lovely breakfast of a Pacific cod and some delicious spot prawns. What impressed me so much was the care with which Frank Keitsch extracted the octopus from the trap, held it just long enough for us to photograph it, and then released it. He also shared that, while it was legal for him to keep that catch (probably lucrative, too!) he no longer has the stomach for it. Once he learned how old and how intelligent they can be, and how barbaric the killing is, he only ever releases them now. It was a gift from the sea to find myself up close and personal with this gorgeous creature.

Here are some photos for you - my Valentine's for you!

Frank Keitsch carefully extricating the octopus...

Frank Kietsch

detaching it...

detatching

 

photo op! photo_opSplash, back you go!

splash

A little burst of brown ink for camouflage, as Frank predicted.

brown_ink

And he's gone.

gone

 

If you love octopus, as I do, here are some things to consider when ordering it:

♥ The status of the octopus population is very hard to determine. That means we may be harvesting the last 10% or we may be harvesting only a fraction of the population. Is this a risk worth taking? To learn more, read this brief summary from Seafood Watch - Octopus, or read the report on Hawai'ian Octopus here.

♥ If the octopus you're contemplating chowing down on can predict the outcome of the World Cup, does he deserve to be spared? Even if he has no powers of prognostication, why else might he be worthy of life at sea rather than death in our belly? Read Sustainable Sushi's take on octopii, the mysteries of the sea and bottom trawling (a common method of catch.)

♥ Where did your tako or pulpo come from? This makes a difference. Learn why.

Pulpo Galician style in Valencia.

pulpo

Seven Questions For...Casson Trenor, Author, Activist, Environmental Hero

In this 4th Annual Teach a Man to Fish event, I've begun a series of interviews called "Seven Questions for..." in order to introduce you to some of the top voices in the movement.

The second installment in the series "Seven Questions for..." introduces you to Casson Trenor.

 

 

Casson and his restaurant partners Kin Lui and Raymond Ho were nominated as the 2009 Time Magazine Heroes of the Environment for their opening of the first sustainable sushi restaurant, Tataki Sushi Bar. When he’s not working with the Tataki crew, he’s Senior Markets Campaigner for Greenpeace. He’s also the author of Sustainable Sushi and publishes the blog SustainableSushi.net.

 

I caught up with my friend and colleague Casson Trenor while he was in Boulder. Even though he was en route to his first cup of coffee on an early Saturday morning, he was sharp as ever.

 

1) How did you first become aware that your food choices make a difference?


Excellent question! Do you know I’ve never been asked that before? To be totally honest I’m not yet sure they totally do. One of the big reasons that I support Greenpeace and work for them is that it’s not really about the individual choices. I’m not totally sure that Joe Schmo really has an effect on the industry.


I think the impact comes from the guys that buy tens of thousands of lbs of seafood. At the buyer level, those are the ones whose decisions need to change. Conversely, as someone that has the responsibility of running a restaurant, and extrapolating the things I learn and talk about - I see that the choices I make at the restaurant level, those are ones within my responsibility. I we’re serving only sustainable seafood then the customer doesn’t have to worry about it.

 

2) What advice do you have for people just beginning to figure out sustainable seafood? Why should someone whose never thought about this bother?

 

This is a question I get all the time - depending on audience I get all the time.. someone who’s never thought about it before? If someone approaches me and says “hey I care, I want to make a difference” I answer one way. I don’t think that person is that common? There’s not that many people out there.  It’s often more common that people are concerned about health, family, human health.


I guess, I’d say that I am not in the business of creating more environmentalists or converting more individual evangelists, but I am all about influencing the level of buyers whose impact is the step before the individual. The buyers for the supermarkets, for example.

 

3) How do you feel about Community Supported Fisheries?


All fisheries are community supported you have to look at the other side of the water community. The overall ecology which allows the fish to exist at levels that enable us to keep fishing. It’s community sustainability.  Community is like a web, like pick-up sticks, the fish, the fishermen, the people, the community - they’re interdependent.


If the CSF programs shorten the distance between boat and throat, that’s good. The problem is that the industry hinges on trust. Always has, always will. Most of the population doesn't have the time or ability to vet or check that the fish caught and sold is traceable to a sustainable source, a healthy fishery.  They may become trusted, but trustworthy is the question. We need to answer, to address the accountability, the traceability.

 

 

4) What do you think about efforts of retailers to improve their sustainable offerings?

Great - I think it’s great and we’ve seen a lot of positive change in recent times, directly with corporations. What I deal with in the corporate realm, it is progressing. We’ve seen incredible things in past year: Wegman’s issues the statement, Target discontinues farmed salmon...all incredibly good stuff.

 

 

 

5) What’s going on with bluefin tuna? Any good news on the global scale?

I wish. The Conservation Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, we had people there and we were hoping to get some solid plan to protect remnants of Biodiversity. We had hoped for a declaration of 40% protected marine reserves in the world’s oceans. What came out was a soft 10%. It remains to see how even this tiny amount will be implemented. It goes back to enforcement and accountability.

 

6) What’s your feeling about MSC certification?


Speaking as someone familiar with the perspective of Greenpeace: Seafood sustainability is vast. There’s room for all different pieces, and need for all pieces: wallet cards, certifications. etc. In its current form, I don’t feel that there’s acceptable certification for now. What would make it acceptable?


Groups are turning to it but Greenpeace has severe concerns about how it works and to whom it answers.


In our “Carting Away the Oceans” project MSC adherents selling red-list species - it makes no difference if they’re selling Chilean Sea bass with or without the MSC certification. Either store, the one selling Chilean Sea Bass with MSC certification and the one selling it without, both lose the same amount of points.

 

 

7)  How is your latest restaurant? Tataki South? (Tataki South - bigger South 29 30th in SF on Church)

 

We’re pushing the envelope, eschewing the sushi-only focus (of the original Tataki Sushi Bar). With a full kitchen, we’re able to do cooked food. We’ll expand the menu. We’re aiming for fully local, sustainable vegetables, now at around 80% local. Moving to 100% is the goal. Fish is #1 priority but we’ll be expanding the offerings to local meats, too.

 

 

 

  • Hajime Sato of Mashiko Sushi Bar & Casson are off to Hokkaido (my Grandmother’s birthplace and home to some of the most amazing kombu and seafood) doing a 10 day modern sushi investigation. I hope to get a recipe for our round up before he goes. Stay tuned.

 

 

Boston's First 100% Sustainable Seafood Restaurant

Did you know that Boston is home to the first 100% Sustainable Seafood Restaurant? Did you know Turner Fisheries has been on this path since a year ago October 1st? About time we investigate and take proper note of this new high water mark, eh.

Chef Armand Toutaint was one of the first and most enthusiastic replies when I began outreach for the Teach a Chef to Fish workshops last year. He was on my short list for folks to call this year to participate in Teach a Man to Fish. Lucky for me, his people got to me first. I had noticed many good choices on the menu when I stopped in with a visiting friend a few months back and then began to notice the ads popping up here and there.

Island Creek Oysters grilled with Maitake mushrooms, Riesling creme.

Grilled Mahi Mahi over lobster brown butter rice pilaf.

Taylor Bay Scallops, Littlenecks over pappardelle with a smoked tomato, vodka sauce.

Full disclosure: This was an invitation to dinner and Doc came along. Let me address the doubters first by saying, I was already a fan of this restaurant, and was so when I was paying, too. This hosted dinner afforded me the opportunity to share an interview with the chef about his sustainable seafood menu and also the chance to report first-hand on more dishes than I would have been able to purchase on my own. The chowder is legendary and the first New England Clam Chowder that Doc had when he investigated moving here in 1993. It sets the bar for what clam chowder should be, for him and for many others. I used to come here in the old days to watch a neighbor perform, who knows, maybe we were here at the same time and didn't know it.

 

Interview with Chef Armand Toutaint, Turner Fisheries

 

What has been the biggest challenge?


"100%" is the biggest challenge. I'd say we're almost where I want us to be, but it's always a struggle. I'm comfortable saying we're at 100% though I'd like better traceability on some of the items but the market is not there yet.


 

[ed. note: the issue Chef Toutaint raises here is really important. It raises so many of the challenges in this arena. What is "sustainable" - who provides the best science to back the claim? Who shares the science? Who provides traceability to the source or documents the catch method? Which fisheries are in good health and who is monitoring them? Throughout our discussion, over the course of this meal, it became clear to me how carefully Chef Toutaint considers each of these aspects of the decision he makes in building his menu and sourcing his seafood. This is truly a model for other restaurants and chefs to follow.]


Honestly, it was easy to sell up in the hotel (Starwood) property, it's been a part of their values so they signed on right away. Harder to sell "out" Boston is a very traditional town. Much tougher sell outward, to customers. For example, I don't use the cheaper imported shrimp. They want to know why this shrimp is so expensive?

 

What do you rely on for guidance?

 

Primarily, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

 

What about the in house training/or selling the concept in-house?

Some have embraced it more. In general, people are on board and getting more so. We're doing more than just seafood. We compost. We have an in-house filtration system and are eliminating bottled water. We're finding more and more sustainable breweries and wineries that are organic or biodynamic.


 

What has been a success story or a surprise in this transition?

During our transition, the British site, Fish2Fork rated us one of the ten best restaurants for sustainable seafood. We were pleasantly surprised and asked what we could do to improve our score. We worked to understand what went into the 2.5 fish rating and also to learn how to improve. We went up to 3.5.


Haven't done the Green Chefs/ Blue Ocean training since it was first launched, took it before Teach a Chef to Fish last year.

 

Where are you sourcing your seafood?

We try to use our local purveyors as much as possible and have one in particular, Louis Seafood, who really got it and stepped up. Now he's using what we're learning together to upsell to others. He has good traceability. Also we do use Cleanfish and MSC fish.

 

How did you get started on this ?

Well, it has been an interest of mine and recently caught eye as a differentiator. Especially from seafood restaurants in town, like Legal Seafood. Wish it were easier to find more purveyors offering traceable, sustainable seafood.

 

 

Any dishes that you wanted to keep but had to re-tool?

In some we could easily substitute a more sustainable product, like Laughing Bird shrimp for the standard SE Asian imports. Some things we could never take off the menu, like the number 1 seller: Seafood Risotto. We simply swapped out the components with more sustainable options .

Oysters are a great, sustainable offering and we carry a few all the time. We get Golden Trout from Wyoming.

We've even added a vegan offering that gets as much care as other dishes. Our favorite chowder is gluten-free as long as you don't use the oyster crackers.


Vegan "Cioppino" heirloom potatos, Fall squash, peppers, tofu.

 

 

How do you see the progress at the one year mark?

We're already seeing business results. I wish we could push it even further, like Miya's Sushi in New Haven with his invasive species dinners and such. We have to recognize our customers are more traditional, but we're seeing enthusiasm grow.


We explain that we're using fully traceable line-caught ahi. We're sourcing other things on the menu from sustainable sources, too. Our salmon is Alaskan in season and Loch Duart the rest of the year. Only carrying swordfish when we can get traceable sustainably caught from Canada but that's only 10% of the catch and there's a definite season (ending right about now.)

 

~ ~ ~

 

Thanks Chef for dinner and thanks for all you do. With the focus progress and continuous learning, you are earning your stripes every day. True 100% sustainability may be possible soon, we bet you'll get there! These issues are complex but you demonstrate it's not impossible.

 

Now Boston, go give our sustainable star some love!

 

 

Seven Questions for Barton Seaver - Chef, Activist, National Geographic Fellow

As part of Teach a Man to Fish (TM2F), I’m interviewing some of my favorite chef/activists and asking a series of “Seven Questions.”

In this way I hope to introduce new readers, as well as long-time fans, to some leading voices at the intersection of gourmet and sustainable food; the street where I live. 

I was thrilled to catch up with Barton Seaver the day his Cookwise program premiered on the National Geographic Ocean website. Just the day before we spoke, his TED Talk aired and folks have already been asking me what I think about this business of “restorative” seafood, as he calls it. Barton shared these thoughts with the audience at the International Boston Seafood Show on my Teach a Chef to Fish panel this Spring.

I’m sure there are skeptics, but I find his way of thinking about things very common-sense based. It’s why I shared info about Kim O’Donnel’s Meatless book (The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook) at my Sustainable Meats class. Simply put, Barton makes the point that the best thing we can do to save the oceans is to eat less seafood. I often tell people that one of the best moves they can make toward health, toward saving the planet, toward greater enjoyment of more diverse food groups is to eat less meat. When you eat it, eat better quality, more sustainably raised meat.

Today though, we talk of seafood. This is my fourth year of running Teach a Man to Fish and Barton’s been with us from the start!



Seven Questions for Barton Seaver:

Me: TM2F is in its fourth year, I was struck by the number of questions people had for me at a recent luncheon. It was completely unrelated to sustainability or seafood. It seems that there’s been an increase overall, in awareness, but people are struggling perhaps more than ever with where to find answers.

Do you find that to be so?


Barton: Sure, becoming even more so. Info is becoming a more valuable commodity. “Sustainability” “Green” -- these terms are all becoming meaningless...It’s really a case of “buyer beware” One of the things people seem to want is some sort of romance, sense of culture with their food, their food stories. Monsanto and WalMart are not romantic. This opens the door for local seafood vendors and purveyors, some of whom are less transparent than they should be. Raises the stakes for consumers.

Monterey Bay and other groups are looking at long-term strategies, sustainable seafood has sort of reached a tipping point. There’s been an evolution of people’s understanding. First it was critical that people understood there is a problem. Second, they needed to understand solutions exist. And now, we’re at the point where people need to understand the context. There’s a sort of diaspora of messaging, people need help understanding the nuances.

Me: How did you first become aware that your food choices make a difference?

Barton: It was through starting relationships with farmers in my local area and realizing that food dollars support human ecosystem. And through that system we heavily impact our environments human names and faces that brought the environmental issues home.

Me: What advice do you have for people just beginning to figure out sustainable seafood?

Barton: First: understand that it’s a giant problem. Solutions exist and they’re easier than you think. The cheapest and the easiest, the best thing you can do is eat vegetables and eat more plant-based food and diversified selection of proteins in smaller amounts.


Me: How do you feel about Community Supported Fisheries?

Barton: CSFs are good in that they are reducing the time between producer and consumer. They are an effective step toward a better ability to manage resources, but just because relationships are more personal you cannot forget the science. You must take into account the science and protect the resources.

An unspoken issue is the amount of waste in both aquaculture and wild fisheries. Bio average may be 35% of every fish is waste. It takes the same primary productivity to fish an eye ball as fillet, but we waste guts, fins, gills, etc. Of the remaining percent, another 30% of all remaining seafood ends up as waste.

So that model (how we fish and how well we fully utilize it) we need to change that, we drastically need to change that.

Me: What are your thoughts about MSC (Marine St ewardship Council) certifications?

Barton: MSC has been pushed on a pedestal it was not intended for.  It’s a very useful and credible tool. In and of itself it is not a solution, and it was never meant to be that. The  fisheries they’ve recently certified, I don’t begrudge them that. They are open and transparent. Traceability is there.

It’s a tool that too much is expected of. You know a hammer in one man’s hand builds a house, in a another tears it down. How can we best support it with other tools.

I’ve read the paper that Jeremy Jackson Daniel Pauly wrote and am okay with nearly  everything that’s in it. I don’t agree with how people have spun it.

 




Me: Who do you trust for accurate info on the safety of Gulf Seafood?

Barton: I understand and want to support the people who make their livelihood off the Gulf but it’s difficult. You have commercial interests telling you it’s okay (to eat the seafood) and persons with commercial interest saying “I’m not feeding it to my kids.”

News that’s coming out of gulf, it’s very difficult an accurate picture.

Do I think we should be sniff-testing seafood? Yeah, and if it smells like oil you dont need to spend any more $ than that on testing. But if it doesn’t, you probably do won’t to rely on just that test.

But this is all very tough. None of this means we should be opening quotas, and allowing more and larger fishing areas. It’s a wickedly complex area and gets elucidated by most media as “yes this is complex, but can I just get a sound byte for my readers?


Me: Tell me about some of your projects, you’ve got a lot going on.

Barton: Have you seen the National Geographic Seafood Footprint Decision Tool?

 

Click here to go to the Decisions Guide!

 

 

Really proud of the work there. And today, the Cook-wise segment launches. Love to hear your thoughts on the Ted Talk too. My (edited) chat came out just the other day.

 

 

.

 

 

  • Barton's book, For Cod and Country is coming in Spring 2011.

 

 

  • We're delighted to share three recipes from Barton Seaver,here to kick off our Teach a Man to Fish recipe round up.

 


 

I don't cook but I want to join TM2F...

Teach a Man to Fish (TM2F) is on - 4th Annual, baby!

You want to bring something to the virtual potluck and contribute to the groovy sustainable seafood teach-in, but maybe you don't cook. If you're like my friend Rich, the Passionate Foodie, you may be wondering how you might participate.

Heck, I can't even turn out dishes like Executive Chef Joseph Margate's Kingfish Sashimi:

But, you know what? There are very straightforward dishes, too. Dishes that even newbie home cooks can do. Check the prior years' round ups (see sidebar for inspiration)

Perhaps you are even intimidated to try this simple, delicious "Hempalicious Halibut with Pomegranate" from the Haphazard Gourmet Girls (ObamaFoodorama's Eddie Gehman)

 

Fear not - you, too, can join the party!

Pull up a glass of wine and let me tell you how...

 

If you're like Rich, you eat out a good deal. Sometimes, you even eat at places that are not named "Troquet."

(Hey, I'm not knocking it, I love Troquet. See: Troquet Restaurant Boston Perfects Pairings)

 

Say you want to help raise awareness for sustainable seafood, and I know you do, but you don't cook.

Here are some things you can do to participate in Teach a Man to Fish, even if you only venture into the kitchen for ice to refresh your cocktail:

 

  1. Follow Rich's lead and write to your favorite cooking show. Ask them to make a commitment to using only sustainable seafood. Rich created a stir when he called out Iron Chef and Alton Brown for using bluefin tuna. They no longer do. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers some tools and guidance here: What You Can Do.
  2. Drop me an entry that includes your favorite dish or dishes featuring sustainable seafood that you've had in restaurants. Tell us about the dish and why it's sustainable.
  3. Send me an entry that includes a dish you love that uses a fish that is NOT sustainable but tell us what a good substitute might be, then send the email to the chef suggesting a sustainable substitution.

 

 

Remember this is a fun way to learn together, to learn and to teach by sharing what we're learning. Bottom line is that it must also taste good. This restaurant scan gives non-cooks a way to spread the word that people do want sustainable seafood choices!

Now make that ressie and let us know what you're eating! I'm going to see if Open Table has a list of restaurants which feature sustainable seafood- update soon.

 

  • Please see the Sidebar Teach a Man to Fish for more links like this Resource Guide.

 

TM2F Links for you & Quizzes, too!

People often say to me "you're an expert on sustainable seafood, should I buy? (fill in the blank)" Should I eat  (fill in the blank) ?"

I quickly reset expectations. I'm no expert, not really. I'm just a regular person, inspired as a child by Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic, committed as an adult to learning more. me and a penguin

Committed to continuously learning and to sharing the learning - not necessarily the answers - with as many people as I can. I may have some answers today, and I may be fairly confident in their accuracy. I can point you to resources to check, tools you can use and experts more knowledgeable than I, that you can consult with.

We cannot know what tomorrow's science will tell us. We can only be sure it will likely change some of what we know today to be true.

My goal is to create a framework and an enthusiasm to engage in lifelong learning around these issues.

Some Blue Links

Antarctica Icebergs

In the spirit of transparency and to encourage one and all, I'll tell you there are two simple quizzes on the National Geographic Ocean site. One quiz tests you on your knowledge of the health of the oceans and another on seafood. (Do we call all food from farms "landfood?" Hmmm..maybe time to get more specific there, too.) I'll tell you I did not score perfectly on either. Always room to improve!

As recipes and new tools start to roll in I'm beginning the round up for the 4th Annual Teach a Man to Fish Recipe Round Up and Resource Guide.

 

To get your wheels turning, here are a few links worth clicking through.

 

 

 

What about our impact on the Marine Food Chain? (Great video, appropriate for kids and interactive maps.)

 

Now I'm off to bed. Tell me what your score on the Ocean quiz was - what'd you learn?

Industrial fishing is estimated to have wiped out what percent of large predatory fish?

10%?

20%?

60%?

90%?

Keep on truckin' -- or sunbathing...

 

Teach a Man to Fish - Fact Sheet


An example of what one woman, armed with a little determination and a lot of caffeine can do.

 

2007

  • I launched Teach a Man to Fish in October 2007.
  • First event on The Leather District Gourmet blog included over 2 dozen recipes, Barton Seaver, Peter Pahk, two videos.
  • Recognized by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, invited to Sustainability Institute and Cooking for Solutions in acknowledgement of effort.

2008

  • In 2008 TAMTF netted 43 recipes from 10 countries, 10 states in the US; nine professional chefs - including Rick Moonen returning; Barton Seaver, Dory Ford of Portola at the Monterey Bay Aquarium; Peter Pahk, Stuart Brioza, Chef Kin Wai Lui of Tataki -the first sustainable sushi restaurant.
  • Award-winning food writers, and a sushi concierge also participated.
  • Two additional videos added to resource guide.
  • First annual Flying Fish Award to Lia Huber for Five-step Action Plan for Talking to your Fishmonger
  • Included in Utne Reader’s Special Online Project: Sustainable Seafood

 

2009

  • Noted in Sustainable Ocean Project
  • Participants included Chocolate & Zucchini blogger Clotilde Dusoulier, Matt Wright, Rebecca Katz double IACP winner; two top chef contestants, author Langdon Cook, and more.
  • The second annual Flying Fish Award - "for going above and beyond" went to Casson Trenor, recognized by Time Magazine along with his partners, Chefs Kin Lui and Raymond Ho, he started the Sustainable Sushi trend.
  • Barton Seaver won Esquire's Chef of the Year award for making sustainability center of the plate. He also became a fellow at the Blue Ocean Institute which co-developed the new chef tutorial along with our own Chefs Collaborative.
  • Sponsors included: FishChoice.com, Alaska Seafood Marketing Inst., Australis Barramundi

 

Workshops Launched

  • 2009 was also the year I launched Teach a Chef to Fish workshops. These events reached chefs in Boston and in Chicago, included a cooking demo by Radhika Desai (Top Chef Season 5), and participation of ACF members and Shedd Aquarium staff.

Presentations

  • Presented at the International Boston Seafood Show based on the Teach a Chef to Fish workshop.
  • I participated in a panel discussion at the Slow Food Boston screening of The End of the Line, along with Niaz Dorry of NAMA Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and Cape and Fresh Catch and Jason Clermont of the New England Aquarium.

 

 

2010

Presentations

  • Presented at Tufts Friedman School’s  Farm, Fish and Fowl: Exploring Sustainability Alumni event