Posts Tagged 'sustainable seafood'



Thoughtful Thursday: It’s National Seafood Month!

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October is National Seafood Month – a chance for us to highlight and celebrate healthy food choices and healthy oceans.

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At the National Aquarium, we are working hard to improve the health of our ocean ecosystems and the sustainability of our fish stocks. Healthy marine ecosystems provide many benefits, none more obvious than the seafood we eat.

Across our country we have a long history of close connections to our local seafood. From Maine lobster, pacific salmon and Gulf of Mexico red snapper, to Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, people and communities grew to thrive and depend on local seafood production. And these relationships have helped us to better understand the need to care for both our oceans and the fish they support. But like much of the food we buy, even as choices have multiplied, our connections to seafood have gotten more complicated.

Think of your last seafood meal. Really think.

Chances are you remember how it tasted, how it was prepared, the people that shared the meal with you, possibly even the nutritional value of your choice. Chances are also that you did NOT think about the long and often complicated journey involved in getting that seafood to your plate, your choice of fish and where and how it was caught or farmed.

Most likely, you aren’t even sure if that fish came from the United States (currently over 80 percent of our seafood is imported.) You also may not even know for sure that you really got the type of fish that was advertised. Yet informed purchasing choices are among the most powerful ways that each of us can support both sustainable seafood and healthy oceans.

During each week in October, we are going to highlight different subjects related to making thoughtful seafood choices. We’ll talk about fisheries, sustainability, supply chains, traceability, eating local, pirate fishing, human health and economics. Seafood can be a really healthy food choice – but we want to make sure we maximize those health benefits for our families. We also want to ensure health benefits for our oceans. Check back each week to learn about the issues facing our seafood choices and how we can work together to make a difference.

Laura Bankey

Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Q&A with Chef Patrick Morrow

About next week’s featured Fresh Thoughts chef, Patrick Morrow of Ryleigh’s Oyster:

Patrick MorrowMorrow was born and raised in Texas and North Carolina. And it shows through in his broad-shouldered, but still sophisticated cuisine. Attention to detail, inventive ingredients, and a skillful balance of elements within each dish are hallmarks of Chef Morrow’s style, and they keep his menus fresh.

His adamant focus on local and sustainable produce, meats and seafood began during his tenure as sous chef at VIN in Towson and then as executive chef at Ryleigh’s Oyster in Federal Hill. After firmly establishing Ryleigh’s Oyster as part of the Baltimore food scene, Morrow left to open Bluegrass Tavern, a restaurant of his own conception, where he operated as executive chef during the opening year to the delight of restaurant critics and patrons alike.

Always keeping an eye to the horizon, seeking new challenges and tackling new cuisines, the restaurant group responsible for Ryleigh’s Oyster has recently been able to lure Chef Morrow back into their folds. He is currently embarking on several new projects for the group.

In preparation for next week’s dinner, we chatted with Patrick about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region:

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?
It’s tough to choose just one favorite ingredient, but would have to say the farmed oysters would be at the top of my list.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?
I think in the recent years, chefs have become more aware of what they are buying and how they are sourcing the foods they purchase. So you are seeing an increase of sustainable seafood on different menus.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?
The hardest part was finding a good seafood supplier that understood what we were looking for and was willing to supply us with the highest quality sustainable seafood available.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?
Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but would love to see more people using catfish!

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …
Just to spend extra time figuring out a little more about the seafood products that they are buying and how there is a lot of alternatives out there.

How can people better understand sustainable seafood issues concerning oysters?
I think with increased education of how the wild oyster beds are depleting and side effects that it has caused in the bay. And to show people alternatives to wild oysters, with the growing number of high quality farmed oysters in the market place.

To learn more about our sustainable seafood program and other conservation initiatives, click here

Fresh Thoughts is BACK!

Due to popular demand, two dates have been added to our 2013 Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series! Chefs from Ryleigh’s Oyster House and The Capital Grille are set to headline the additional events in September and November of 2013.

National Aquarium Fresh Thoughts

Each dinner of the series is themed around sustainable seafood, and will feature a cocktail reception, cooking demonstration by the guest chef, and a fine dining experience that includes a four-course menu created solely for the event. Guests are invited to come early to explore the exhibits, including Blacktip Reef!

Ryleigh’s Oyster House, located in historic Federal Hill, specializes in serving fresh, quality seafood, meat, poultry, and produce in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant has been recognized by the Restaurant Association of Maryland as one of the “Stars of the Industry” and received praise from The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper and WJZ.

Executive Chef Patrick Morrow will host an oyster-themed dinner on September 24, 2013.

The Capital Grille, located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, is famous for its dry-ages steaks, exceptional seafood and award-winning wine list. The restaurant has been named to OpenTable’s Best American Cuisine Top 50 List, and has received accolades from WineSpectator and UrbanSpoon.

The Capital Grille will host a dinner on November 19, 2013.

Tickets for each dinner are $79 for National Aquarium members and $99 for non-members. Tickets for the September 24 and November 19 dinners can be purchased online or by calling 410-576-3869. 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Understanding Seafood Fraud

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We all know that the seafood choices we make directly affect the health of our oceans. How the fish is fished or farmed, where it is fished or farmed, if it is overfished, if other species are accidentally caught along with the desired species: all of these issues make a difference in the overall health of our marine ecosystems. Fortunately, there are tools that are available to help us make the right choices both in grocery stores and in seafood restaurants.

What happens, though, when make the effort to make the right choices, but we are sold mislabeled fish and we end up eating something completely different from what we ordered? This is one of the major aspects of Seafood Fraud, and it happens more often than we think. To raise awareness of this important conservation issue, seafood fraud was the chosen theme of last night’s Fresh Thoughts dinner at National Aquarium, Washington, DC.

According to a study done by our partners over at Oceana, close to 33 percent of the seafood purchased in the US is mislabeled.

This is not necessarily the fault of the restaurant or grocery store. Mislabeling can happen anywhere in the supply chain. A vast majority of the seafood we consume in the US is imported. There are several steps involved in getting a fish caught or farmed in a foreign county onto your dinner plate. Many folks are involved (fishermen, farmers, distributors, importers, exporters, etc) and there are limited resources available to inspect seafood imports. Further more, generally consumers have a limited ability to truly recognize what fish we’re eating. The situation is ripe for us to be taken advantage of.

This hurts us as consumers and as concerned citizens of our blue planet. Often, we are sold cheaper fish in place of premium species that we desire. This trend also hurts honest fishermen, distributors and chefs that are doing their best to make responsible business decisions while providing for their families. Just as importantly, though, is the harm this is causing to our marine ecosystems. Knowing the growing trend for choosing sustainable seafood, sustainable choices are often swapped with seafood that is “red-listed” to take advantage of the willingness to pay a little bit more for seafood that supports healthy oceans.

“The best way to combat seafood fraud is to require traceability – or the ability to track our fish from boat to plate.” said Beth Lowell, campaign director for Oceana, during last night’s event. We as consumers need to be assured of the source of our seafood. In the US, fishermen already provide much of this information upon landing. Unfortunately, there is no accountability in making sure it then is kept intact throughout the rest of the supply chain. And for the vast majority of the seafood that we consume that in imported, there are almost no checks and balances in place to protect the consumer.

So, what can we do? Here are some simple ways you can help combat this issue:

  • We have to let our elected officials know that we are aware of this issue and are concerned about how it is affecting our families, our economy and our oceans. Tell your Senator you want to help them fight seafood fraud!
  • Take steps to understand and decrease the number of steps it takes for the seafood that you consume to get from the boat to your plate. In Maryland, for example there is a True Blue program that identifies restaurants that are selling locally sourced crab meat. Many Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are also developing across the country. These programs make a direct link to consumers and local fishermen, allowing us to purchase healthy, local seafood while supporting our local economies.
  • Spread the word to friends and family. Awareness is the first, and arguably most critical, step to harnessing real change!

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Fresh Thoughts Recipe: Escabeche-Style Grouper

Guests who attend the June 19 Fresh Thoughts dinner at the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, will enjoy a cocktail reception and fine-dining experience from Chef Xavier Deshayes. The dinner’s courses will pair commonly swapped species side-by-side and ask the audience to identify the fish on their plate, begging the question “Do you know what you’re really eating?” The interactive dining experience will include a hearty discussion on seafood fraud with Chef Deshayes, National Aquarium and Oceana experts.

We’re excited to host this dinner in partnership with Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. 

Can’t wait until Wednesday’s dinner to sample the amazing dishes Chef Deshayes has prepared? Try out his recipe for Escabeche-Style Grouper with a Warm Fingerling Potato Salad:

Ingredients for the Escabeche

  •  1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper corn
  • 16 to 24 ounce of black grouper fillet (or any other local, sustainably-sourced grouper) cut on 4 ounce pc.
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  •  1 medium shallot, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’espelette
  •  1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 strips lemon zest

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Pat the grouper dry and toss to coat with the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add the grouper to the pan. Cook on each side for 1 minute.
  3. Using tongs or a fish spatula, transfer the grouper to a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, thyme, coriander, piment d’espelette, white wine, vinegar, and lemon zest. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour the marinade over the fish. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 12 hours.

Ingredients for the potato salad

  • 1 pound boiling fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup of whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoons of whole grain mustard

Directions

  1. Drop the fingerlings potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  2. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Keep the fingerlings potatoes warm. In a bowl mix the whipped cream and whole grain mustard, verified seasoning (reserved for presentation)
  3. At the serving time place on each plate some of the potatoes salad in a center and place the grouper on the top of it. Add a dash of mustard whipped cream on top and a serve.

Want to learn more about our Fresh Thoughts program or reserve tickets for our upcoming dinner in Washington, DC? Click here


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