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'Fish on Fridays': Gulf of Mexico Grouper

Grilled Grouper

Grilled Grouper over Arugula & orange salad. Photo credit: Food Network/Emeril Lagasse

Grouper are delicious fish that are harvested in both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico, these fish are managed under a catch share program, where species like red and black grouper have healthy populations. John Schmidt, a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico who fishes for grouper, tells us about his experiences in the fishery and how it has changed for the better under a catch share. Finally, we are sharing a delicious and healthy recipe for grilled grouper over an arugula and orange salad.

Gulf of Mexico Grouper/Tilefish IFQ Program

The Grouper-Tilefish IFQ program was implemented in January of 2010. Prior to this program, commercial grouper and tilefish were managed with limited access fishing permits, trip limits, size limits, closed seasons and catch limits. These management measures resulted in overcapitalization of the fishery and subsequent early closures. Fishermen were going bankrupt and fish stocks were depleted. Since the fishermen have been operating under a catch share in this fishery, the stocks are rebuilding, discards of dead fish are down, the race to fish has been eliminated, and fishermen are able to grow their businesses in an industry that was previously struggling.

Meet a Fisherman: John Schmidt

John Schmidt starting spearfishing recreationally in the Gulf of Mexico over 25 years ago and later started his own commercial fishing business. He remembers seeing an abundance of large fish when he first started, and also recalls that grouper (primarily gag grouper) became overfished and very scarce by 2006. When he started his business in 2004, many fishermen were going out of business because the fishery was so depleted. He started the business anyway because he had a passion for fishing and he loved providing Americans with fresh seafood. He had faith that a better management system would be implemented, “Management was out of control. Fish weren’t nearly as fresh, seasons were getting shorter, there were gluts on the market, restaurants and wholesalers were using imported or falsely labeled grouper to fill the demand. Something had to change.”

Now, he is proud to be a part of a fishery that is rebuilding and has a future. “I’m proud to have a fishing business that is sustainable and has integrity. I love to provide fresh domestic seafood to Americans year round. The futures of our businesses are great for the first time in our lifetime.”

Species: Gulf of Mexico Red Grouper

Red Grouper is caught in recreational and commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions of the United States. Most grouper populations are healthy or rebuilding under catch share management in the Gulf of Mexico region. You can purchase fresh Gulf grouper under the GulfWild program, which improves seafood traceability by attaching a unique tag to each fish so that it can be traced back to the captain and location of capture. Grouper is prized by seafood consumers and restaurants for its firm, lean flesh with a mild flavor. It is extremely versatile and can be prepared in a variety of recipes.

Try this recipe for grilled grouper over an arugula and orange salad adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe in Emeril’s New New Orlean’s Cooking book.

 

Grilled Grouper over Arugula & Orange Salad

Ingredients:

For the fish:

1 (3.5-4 pound) grouper, fillets removed with scales intact

4 tablespoons melted butter

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon finely grated parmesan

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

4 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme, basil or chives

 

For the salad:

2 cups arugula

2 cups baby spinach

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 orange, supremed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1.4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

For the fish:

Preheat your grill to medium-high

Combine melted butter, garlic, parmesan, creole seasoning and olive oil. Whisk ingredients to combine.

Place fillets of grouper on the grill, scale side down. This method ensures that the fish stays moist while grilling and makes the scales easier to remove. Brush fillets with melted butter mixture. Be generous!

Grill the fish for 3 minutes with the cover closed, and then re-brush with butter mixture. Repeat this process for a total of 12-15 minutes until fish is firm and opaque in color. In the last minute of cooking, sprinkle fish with fresh chopped herbs.

Remove and serve immediately over the salad.

For the salad:

Combine spinach, arugula, orange segments and onion in a large bowl.

Make the dressing in a separate bowl by whisking together the Dijon mustard, orange juice and vinegar. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Black Sea Bass, Virginia Beach Style

Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

If you’ve been to an upscale Manhattan seafood restaurant, chances are you’ve seen Black Sea Bass on the menu. New York chefs drive the bulk of the demand for this tasty Atlantic fish, but you don’t have to be a fancy New York City chef to put Black Sea Bass on the table.  Sea bass fished off the coast of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware is caught sustainably under a catch share program which ensures that catch limits are not exceeded and fish populations can maintain healthy numbers. It is important to note, however, that not all sea bass caught on the Atlantic coast is sustainably managed, so it is best to ask your chef or seafood vendor where the fish was caught to ensure you are supporting fishermen who are fishing sustainably.

This week’s ‘Fish on Fridays’ post features VA black sea bass, currently managed under an ITQ system. Jack Stallings and his partner at Virginia Beach’s Coastal Grill have shared their technique for frying sea bass whole and serving it with scallion butter.

Meet a fisherman and restaurant owner: Jack Stallings

Stallings has been a commercial, hook and line Black Sea Bass fisherman for years. He remembers fishing for it long before it was under Virginia’s IFQ (catch share) program, when the competition was fierce and fishermen were restricted to quarterly quotas that glutted the market and lowered the price they’d get for their catch. Once the IFQ went into effect in 2004, he said, he could pick and choose when to fish, going out when he knew demand (and prices) would be highest, and when he was sure the fish would be biting.

“We know when the trawlers are catching a lot of fish and when they’d be landing,” he said. “We can work in between their landings. We know when prices are low, so we can save our quota for other times, when prices are higher.”

But Stallings doesn’t fish as much as he used to. Now that he’s 65 and semi-retired, he spends more of his time focused on the restaurant he co-owns. Black Sea Bass is only one of many species they cook up for their customers; he’s quick to note that it’s more popular in New York than it is in Virginia Beach.

 

Black Sea Bass:

One of four species jointly managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Black Sea Bass can be fished year round, though it is harder to catch during the summer spawning months. It is a flaky, white fish when cooked that is used in chowder, fried, grilled or stuffed. It can be found near the rocky bottom of the ocean and has stiff dorsal fins that should be handled with care. Stallings said his restaurant serves it with the fins still on.

 

Fried Black Sea Bass at Coastal Grill

Ingredients:

Whole fresh black sea bass

Corn starch

Scallion Butter:

3 Fresh scallions, chopped

1 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

 

Instructions:

For the scallion butter:

Sauté the scallions in vegetable oil. Add to the melted butter.

 

For the fish:

Scale, gut and remove the gills from the fish. Leave on the head, the tail and the fins.

Make three vertical cuts in each side of the fish to allow it to cook evenly. Then roll in corn starch. Shake it by the tail to remove excess starch, and then, still holding it by the tail, dip it into a fryer “for as long as you dare,” or about five seconds. This makes the fins stand out.

Then “turn it loose” into the fryer and cook for three to four minutes. Remove from fryer, let it drain and set it on the plate.

Drizzle with scallion butter and serve.

 

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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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