Knowing what you’re putting on your plate can help keep fish plentiful.
By Lisa James
Flounder, tuna, cod, salmon: Visit any fish market and these (along with a few others) are the species you’ll find. Readily available and tasty, they are what the home cook relies upon when fish is on the menu.
Problem is, our appetite for seafood is putting a severe strain on the planet’s oceans. According to www.overfishing.org, more than 25% of the world’s fish stocks are depleted.
One way to reduce overfishing is to use sustainably sourced seafood. “A study of recipes in cookbooks published over more than a century confirms that we used to eat smaller fish but have shifted our preferences to larger predatory species,” says chef Barton Seaver, a fellow with the Blue Ocean Institute and author of For Cod and Country (Sterling Epicure).
Seaver explains that while in general eating smaller, more quickly replenished species such as herrings and sardines is a good idea, there are shades of nuance caused by differences in fishing techniques.
Seaver cites mahi mahi as an example. Currently at healthy levels, this mild-flavored fish is either pole caught, a sustainable method, or caught with long lines that sometimes employ thousands of hooks, which can accidentally ensnare seabirds and turtles. Since you can’t tell the difference in the store, “your only defense is to patronize a well-informed fishmonger who cares about where his or her fish are coming from,” Seaver says. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the origin of your purchase and how it was caught. (To learn more, visit www.cleanfish.com.)
A good fishmonger will also carry high-quality product. Fresh fish should smell sweet; whole fish should have bright eyes and scales, while fillets should be firm with no discoloration. If not used in a day or two, fresh fish should be frozen.
Finding a source of sustainable seafood will please both your palate and your conscience.
Wild Striped Bass with
1 ripe avocado
3 tbsp plain yogurt
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 5-oz portions skin-on striped bass fillet
1 bunch fresh cilantro,
leaves only (about
3 cups loosely packed)
1 small onion, very thinly sliced
chipotle Tabasco sauce, optional
1. Preheat oven to 300°. Cut avocado in half, remove seed and use a spoon to scoop out flesh (including dark green flesh near the skin). Place in a small bowl; add yogurt and half of the lime juice. Add salt and mash to create thick sauce (about the consistency of tomato sauce).
2. Place large ovenproof saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1tbsp olive oil and place fish, skin side down, in pan. Cook until the sides of the skin begin to brown;
without turning fish, transfer to oven andcook 12 minutes per inch of thickness.
3. Mix cilantro and onion in a medium bowl. Add remaining lime juice, 1 tbsp oil and salt to taste.
4. Spoon a dollop of avocado sauce onto each plate and push to createa swoosh.
Place fillets on sauce, skin side up, and garnish with salad. If desired, add a few drops
of Tabasco. Drizzle with some extra oil.
Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 311 calories, 27g protein, 20g fat
(3g saturated), 4g fiber, 8g carbohydrate, 548 mg sodium
Reprinted with permission of For Cod & Country by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, www.sterlingpublishing.com) © 2011