Selected tags: lent

The quest for sustainable seafood has never been easier

Photo credit: Rick Moonen/RM Seafood

Photo credit: Rick Moonen/RM Seafood

If you love seafood, the six weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter is likely one of your favorite times of the year. It doesn’t hurt that restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores are awash with Lenten promotions, resulting in the most profitable period for seafood sales.

So why not use this time to get out of your comfort zone?  Put down the tuna and salmon and try something new; the seafood market has an abundance of options.   Additionally, consumers are seeking out local and sustainable seafood like never before, representing some of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry for the past several years.

But which fish are the best to buy? Tools like EDF’s mobile  Seafood Selector and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app are great ways to have sustainable seafood recommendations at your fingertips. Some fish pundits like Chef Alton Brown – host of Good Eats and other programs on the Food Network – go so far as to encourage consumers to ignore all the labels and just “Buy American.” In the absence of definitive information, this might be your best option. However, it’s usually a good bet that your fishmonger or server can tell you where their fish is from.

Did you know?

The average piece of fish can be handled by up to 10-15 people before it gets to your plate. This isn’t inherently bad, especially if it’s coming from remote waters, like Alaska’s Bering Sea. However, more and more seafood lovers want to know who caught their fish, and more importantly, how long it’s taken to get to market. In response, a number of companies, fishermen and nonprofits alike are committed to “shortening the supply chain” between the ocean and your plate. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites:

  • Gulf Wild provides individually tagged, traceable and responsibly-caught red snapper and grouper from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Ecofish is one of the first all-sustainable seafood companies. Their products can be found in health food and natural food stores all across the country.
  • I Love Blue Sea is a California-based company selling a variety of seafood online and direct to consumers. They recently added Gulf Coast and Chesapeake Bay products too.
  • Dock to Dish is a new startup on the East End of Long Island that delivers fresh, hand-caught Montauk seafood to New York City restaurants and consumers within 24 hours.
  • Sea 2 Table partners with local fishermen from small-scale wild fisheries around the country to get their catch direct to market as fast as possible.
  • Community Supported Fisheries have sprung up in the last few years in the mold of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, you pay a local fisherman upfront for a share of his catch and receive a regular seafood delivery throughout the season.
  • Trash Fish or ‘underutilized’ or ‘underappreciated’ seafood species are all the rage right now, and our good friends at Chefs Collaborative are hosting a series of dinners around the country that hope to spread awareness about fish that are sustainably-caught yet undervalued.

It's never been easier to find sustainable, healthy seafood that directly benefits local, responsible fishermen. So put down that generic fish sandwich and help ensure that this trend continues.

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'Fish on Fridays': Pacific Sablefish

Sablefish Recipe

Sable with Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry Vinaigrette. Recipe from Chef Kerry Heffernan

During this season of Lent, we know people are shopping for seafood more frequently and we wanted to help guide sustainable seafood purchases, because buying fish that is caught responsibly is important to consumers. With more reports of seafood mis-labeling, and conflicting sustainability standards, we hope that this series will help consumers choose fish that is local, fresh, and guaranteed to be caught sustainably.

Knowing where your seafood comes from can help support local fishermen who work hard to supply us with the seafood that we all love. 

This week, we are featuring Pacific Sablefish (also known as black cod) which is managed under the Pacific Groundfish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. We are also presenting a tasty recipe from Chef Kerry Heffernan: Sable with Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry Vinaigrette.

 

 

Meet a fisherman: Captain Steve Fitz

Captain Steve Fitz grew up fishing with his father in New England before moving west and graduating from the University of Denver with a degree in business. About eighteen years ago, he moved out to Half Moon Bay, California, to fish with his uncle, eventually becoming the captain of the fishing vessel Mr. Morgan in 2000. Steve and his family are the only commercial fishing operation in the United States that uses Scottish Seine gear, a selective and eco-friendly way to catch groundfish.  Mr. Morgan Fisheries specializes in sustainably harvested groundfish and Dungeness crab.

 

The Pacific IFQ Groundfishery:

Fishermen and fishing communities in California, Washington and Oregon have been operating under the IFQ system for 60 commercially important species of groundfish since 2011. In the first year of this program, West Coast fishermen discarded 80% fewer fish than in the previous year, and their revenues reached $54 million—42% higher than the previous five-year average (2011 NOAA Report).

Environmental Defense Fund has worked for years alongside fishermen, fishery managers and leaders at NOAA Fisheries to develop solutions that reduce costs for the trawl fleet while maintaining critical program components like 100% catch monitoring. The West Coast IFQ fishery is the most accountable fishery in the contiguous United States today. accountability.  A new seafood label developed by EDF and Central Coast Seafood in California recognizes the commitment of the West Coast groundfish fleet to full accountability. The label, which reads “100% Federal At-Sea Monitoring: No Overfishing – Guaranteed”, distinguishes 100% monitored products. This label recognizes the commitment that West Coast fishermen have made to sustainable fishing, and gives consumers the ability to choose a catch share fish over a less sustainable product. Currently, a grocery store can’t distinguish catch share-caught sole, cod, sablefish, or other groundfish from fish from less well-regulated fisheries. The new label gives vendors, restaurants, and individuals the power to vote for catch shares and accountability, by purchasing 100% monitored products.

 

Sablefish:

Sablefish is also known as black cod and butterfish. It is found only in the Pacific and has a rich buttery flesh. Here is a delicious recipe from acclaimed Chef Kerry Heffernan for sablefish, prepared with pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry vinaigrette.

 

Sable with pickled Jerusalem artichokes and sherry vinaigrette

Cut sablefish in strips and sear (see picture).

 

Sherry Vinaigrette:

1 bottle Tio Pepe or other "bone dry" Amontillado sherry

1 bottle aged sherry vinegar

2 shallots finely minced

3 T Dijon mustard

3 egg yolks

2 cups grapeseed oil

 

1) Reduce 3/4 of the sherry and 3/4 of the sherry vinegar to 2/3 cup

2) Place 1/4 C sherry vinegar, 2 T Sherry (unreduced), reduced sherry vinegar/sherry mixture, mustard and shallots in blender. Season well with salt and pepper, blend for 20 seconds. While still blending, add grapeseed oil slowly in a stream so as to emulsify well until consistency of heavy cream is achieved. Check seasoning and add more vinegar, salt, pepper, and even raw sherry to taste.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Pickle:

3 lbs Jerusalem artichokes, very well scrubbed and sliced thinly on mandolin

2 large white onions, very finely julienned

8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 T Grapeseed oil

1/2 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup coriander seed (toasted whole first)

2 each fresh bay leaves

12 each cardamom pods (toasted whole first)

1/4 cup whole Black peppercorns (toasted first )

 

1) Place coriander, black peppercorns, bay leaves and cardamom in cheesecloth, make a "sachet" or pouch, and tie tightly.

2) In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold everything, begin sweating onions in grapeseed oil slowly for 2 to 3 minutes, seasoning with 5T kosher salt; add garlic and sachet and sweat 1 minute. Add Jerusalem artichokes, sugar and vinegar, cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Check seasoning and adjust. Simmer gently until tender but not at all breaking up. Allow to cool in its own liquid.

 

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Sustainable Fish Choices for Lent

Pike Place Seafood Market

Pike Place Seafood Market
Photo Credit: Joey Brookhart/Marine Photobank

During this season of Lent, millions of people are replacing meat with fish on Fridays.  And as they shop for seafood more frequently, many are also striving to avoid eating fish caught in a manner that further depletes the world’s fish stocks. With 87 percent of the world’s fisheries already fully or overexploited, buying sustainably caught seafood has become increasingly important to consumers.

Today, the best way to ensure you are buying sustainable seafood — and supporting American fishermen and fishing communities — is to buy from a US fishery managed under a system known as a “catch share.” Catch shares reduce overfishing by enforcing annual catch limits and increased monitoring, while granting fishermen a guaranteed share of the catch and greater flexibility in how they run their businesses.

They also provide consumers with more fresh, high-quality seafood. When all the fish have to be caught within the space of three days, as previous management required, it causes a glut on the market and most of those fish must be frozen. Longer fishing seasons mean fresh fish can be caught and sold year-round for consumers to enjoy.

So as you shop for your fish each Friday this Lent season, consider picking up some naturally sweet and lean Alaskan halibut, known for its firm, flaky texture. Or how about some sablefish, also known as “black cod” or “butterfish,” which is rich in omega 3 fats? It can be smoked, grilled or pan roasted. The popular Gulf red snapper is delicious when roasted with fresh herbs and vegetables, or perhaps your family would enjoy some mid-Atlantic golden tilefish, oven roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt? Next week give Virginia striped bass (rockfish) a try, rubbed with Cajun seasoning and blackened.

Want more ideas? Every Friday during Lent, we will be posting about sustainable seafood choices from catch share fisheries. Each week we will highlight a species, a fisherman and/or fishing community working hard to ensure a fresh and sustainable product, and a recipe to inspire you. We want to bring you closer to the fish you eat, and ultimately to the marine ecosystem that depends upon responsible consumer choices for its continued survival.

 

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