Its hard for me to resist good fish and seafood, but there are definitely some other important considerations beyond the yum factor. Sustainability and toxic contamination are major concerns. The biggest challenge is finding a fish market willing to fully inform you about the source and fishing methods. This is unlikely at your regular grocery store. Inaccurate or intentionally deceptive labelling is also a common problem at large.
Below are three delicious meals I made this spring along with a link to sourcing considerations and challenges. Although I would give myself an A on these dishes when it comes to flavor, I would honestly only give myself a C when it comes to health and sustainability. Responsible, affordable, delicious fish is a huge challenge these days and the facts change from moment to moment. What we can do is stay informed and try to make the best possible choices given our situation. Right now I still believe that some fish and seafood intake has health benefits that far outweigh the risks, and I think the simple joy of eating must weigh heavily in the equation.
Japanese noodle bowl with tuna tataki. Millet and brown rice organic noodles by King Soba, seared tuna "tataki", sauteed bok choy, Japanese style cucumber and sweet red pepper slaw, Korean style roasted seaweed, dressed with dark sesame oil and ponzu (a soy sauce/citrus blend).
Its easy to do this with any sushi quality sustainable fish instead of tuna. Coat fish in soy or ponzu, a little sesame oil, and even less honey. Sear all outer surfaces of the fish in a very hot pan.
Japanese slaw can be made easily with any slightly tougher vegetables that respond well to pickling: cucumbers, bell peppers, radish, daikon, red or green cabbage, and carrots are some of my favourites. Grate or finely slice, add some good salt (any natural whole salt), and douse with lemon juice or cider vinegar. Within an hour, the salt and acid will mellow in flavor and soften the vegetables. If the flavor is too intense, pour off or squeeze out some of the juice.
Choosing the right noodles is about flavor, texture, and health. There are many affordable high quality organic and wheat-free noodles on the market these days if you look for them. Go to any health food store, ethnic grocery, or health food section of your grocery store.
This meal was a rare indulgence. Even thought I find good tuna hard to resist, it is almost completely off my list of things i'm willing to eat with any regularity. Most tuna is highly suspect - even if you manage to locate a sustainable variety, it is often unaffordable and always loaded with a heavy dose of mercury and other contaminants. Some tuna is ok. Find out more here.
Cod and corn salad with cilantro pesto. Baby greens, cucumber, and sweet corn off the cob (non-GMO), topped with pan fried cod (don't overcook!), pesto and Tajin.
Cilantro pesto: Blender or food processor a bunch or two of cilantro, and enough olive oil and lemon juice (5:1 ratio) to make a nice consistency, a little good salt, and my secret touch; a little garlic flower (optional).
Tajin is a name brand table condiment found ubiquitously in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. It can also be found for sale in Latin groceries around the world. Its basically hot peppers, lime juice, and salt in a dry powdered form.
The Canadian cod fisheries are very slowly making a comeback. Good cod is simply delicious. Find out how to choose sustainable cod here. Pacific cod is the best choice and is both sustainable for the time being, and relatively low in contaminants.
Grilled octopus on artichoke hummus with asparagus.
Octopus was slow cooked in white wine, lemon juice, white pepper, and some good salt, then grilled it very briefly in the oven on high. Served it on store bought artichoke hummus with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Flash boiled young asparagus was served with a simple lemon, olive oil, and tahini dressing.
I had given up on octopus many years ago after a couple of miserable chewy failures. This fantastic article was the key to my new found success.
Octopus is not currently a top choice as far as sustainability so its not something I choose to eat on a regular basis. Toxin levels are variable in octopus depending on where it was caught. Choose with caution. Find out more here.
More and more cities now feature sustainable fish shops. This article, although slightly dated, is packed with resources for the conscientious fish and seafood buyer in Montreal.