Posts Tagged 'sustainable seafood'



Thoughtful Thursdays: Sustainable Sturgeon Farming

Chef Xavier Deshayes, the creative genius behind our Washington D.C. Fresh Thoughts dining series has a real passion for sustainable seafood. In preparing for dinners like Fresh Thoughts, it has become common practice for Chef Deshayes to  travel and investigate the sources of his fresh ingredients first-hand! Earlier this month, Chef Deshayes and members of our conservation team traveled to an aquaculture facility in North Carolina that will be providing both the sturgeon and caviar for our upcoming dinner on April 24th!

Chef Deshayes observing the sturgeon in North Carolina.

Chef Deshayes observing the sturgeon in North Carolina.

The Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company began selling their products just last year, but operations at the facility began as early as 2008. They’re located in the hills of Lenoir, North Carolina, at the foot of the Appalachians and within sight of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The business is cooperatively funded by private business partners, North Carolina State University and experts from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. The 720,000 gallon aquaculture facility sits on the site of the family farm of one of its founders and contains 36 large tanks.

An aerial shot of the nursery facility.

An aerial shot of the facility.

Three species of sturgeon are raised at the farm; Atlantic , Russian and Siberian. The Russian Sturgeon is the source of the famous Osetra caviar. Atlantic sturgeon are native to the United States and can be found in distinct populations along the east coast and in the rivers from Canada to Florida. They spend most of their adult lives in the ocean but will return to the river in which they were born to spawn. Like their Russian counterparts, Atlantic sturgeon populations are diminishing and there are limits or outright bans on fishing these animals.

The Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company was founded in order to help fill the demand for quality seafood and caviar without over-burdening wild populations of fish stocks. Fish are fed and maintained for several years – until they are 3-5 years old and are approximately three feet in length. Around this time, experts at the facility use ultrasound technology to determine the sex of the animal and males and females are separated.

A sturgeon being given an x-ray to determine sex.

A sturgeon being given an ultrasound to determine sex.

Males are raised to the desired size and harvested for their meat. Fresh sturgeon meat is white and firm and popular in restaurants around the region.

Once the females are separated they are monitored through ultrasound for proper egg development. We watched this process and it’s an amazing marriage between science and art. The subtle differences between “exactly right” and “a tad too far” are impossible to detect from a layman’s perspective but are extremely important if you want to maximize profits by providing the best caviar product possible. The process of extracting caviar is delicate, exacting, detail oriented and extremely time consuming.

Once the caviar has been harvested, it's canned by hand.

Once the caviar has been harvested, it’s canned by hand.

The staff at the Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company are passionate about creating a successful business that is sustainable in the long-term!

Join us at the next Fresh Thought dinner in Washington, DC to see the success of their work! Want to learn more about our sustainable seafood program in DC? Watch this video: 

Fresh Thoughts Recipe: Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish

Our sustainable seafood dining series, Fresh Thoughts, not only offers a delicious dinner and a fun evening out, it’s also a way to increase your understanding of sustainable seafood practices to help you make informed choices. As part of the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, we provide the community a venue to better understand what sustainable seafood choices are available locally and how this larger movement can help protect many species from overfishing!

In anticipation of our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner, our featured chef Matt Siegmund of the Oregon Grille is sharing his delicious rockfish recipe!

Oregon Grille Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish

Recipe for Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. rockfish (skin off, cut into four 3-oz. pieces)
  • 4 vanilla beans (cut in half with seeds and dried overnight)
  • 1/2 cup blended oil
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pound of butter
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of whole butter
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Blend oil with vanilla beans.
  2. Clarify 1 pound of butter with cinnamon sticks until aromatic.
  3. Cut the acorn squash in half with skin on; season with salt, pepper and maple syrup.
  4. Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or until semi-firm).
  5. When the squash is cool, peel away skin and cut into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside.
  6. Season fish with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat cinnamon butter in a saucepan until hot (not boiling).
  8. Place fish in butter, turning occasionally until cooked through.
  9. In a separate pan, melt 2 tablespoons of whole butter, then add squash, salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.
  10. Place squash in center of plate; top with poached rockfish and drizzle vanilla oil over top.

Want to learn more great sustainable seafood recipes? Join us for our next Fresh Thoughts dinner

Fresh Thoughts Spotlight: Sustainable Super Bowl Recipes

Hosting a Super Bowl party this Sunday? We’ve rounded up some delicious sustainable seafood recipes that will delight your guests (as they root the Baltimore Ravens on to victory)!

Although it’s no secret who the Aquarium is rooting for this weekend, these recipes highlight sustainable choices found in the local regions of BOTH teams, plus the host city:

Atlantic

Pacific

New Orleans, the host city

Want to learn more about how to make sustainable seafood choices? Join us for our next Fresh Thoughts dinner on Tuesday, February 5, in Baltimore! Our sustainable seafood dining series not only offers a delicious dinner and a fun evening out, it’s also a way to increase your understanding of sustainable seafood practices to help you make informed choices.

National Aquarium Fresh Thoughts

Each evening is themed around a sustainable seafood choice that is available locally. Guests enjoy a cocktail reception, a cooking demonstration by the guest chef, a three-course fine-dining experience, and an after-hours stroll through the Aquarium.

Our Sustainable Seafood Series is BACK!

fresh thoughts sustainable seafood dining series

We are thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming chefs from some of the area’s best restaurants for the 2013 Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series! This is the fifth year we’re hosting the series celebrating sustainable seafood, recently named one of the National Restaurant Association’s Top 10 Trends for 2013.

sustainable seafood oysters

Just because it is good for you, doesn’t mean it can’t taste good!

Chefs from Laurrapin Grille, The Oregon Grille and Bagby’s Fleet Street Kitchen will headline the 2013 series in Baltimore, themed around sustainable seafood choices that are available in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Fresh Thoughts dining series is not only a great way for people to enjoy an intimate dining experience with a fantastic local chef, but also a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainability!

National Aquarium Fresh Thoughts

Each dinner features a cocktail reception of regional wines and cooking demonstration led by the guest chef, followed by a fine dining experience that includes a four-course menu created solely for the event, all while overlooking the Baltimore Harbor. The event concludes with a stroll through the Aquarium.

looking out at the inner Harbor

Tickets for each dinner are priced at $79 for National Aquarium members and $99 for non-members, or all three dinners can be purchased as a package with a discount of $10 per dinner. Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series dinners take place at 6:30 p.m. at National Aquarium, Baltimore located at 501 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. The dates of the dinners are February 5, March 19 and May 22, 2013.

Visit aqua.org or call 410-576-3869 to reserve your seat today!

National Aquarium Fresh Thoughts

Laurrapin Grille, located in historic downtown Havre de Grace in Harford County, serves seasonally inspired American cuisine with a commitment to using local and sustainable food. Dishes prepared by Chef Bruce Clarke reflect the true flavor of the food and honor the bounty of Maryland the Chesapeake Bay region. Chef Clarke will host a dinner on February 5, 2013.
Click here to buy tickets to Fresh Thoughts with Laurrapin Grille on February 5.

The Oregon Grille is the area’s premiere steak house serving the finest prime dry-aged steaks, large lobsters and seafood. The restaurant has been recognized by Baltimore magazine as one of the area’s “Best Restaurants” and has received accolades from Zagat, Wine Spectator, and OpenTable. The Oregon Grille will host a dinner on March 19, 2013.
Click here to buy tickets to Fresh Thoughts with The Oregon Grille on March 19.

Chef Chris Becker of Fleet Street Kitchen returns to the Fresh Thoughts series after a great showing in 2012. Locally owned and operated, Fleet Street Kitchen features contemporary American cuisine and has received praises from critics at The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Magazine. The menu is an ever-changing collection of seasonally inspired selections with a strong emphasis on locally sourced, ethically raised, sustainable ingredients. Chef Becker will host a dinner on May 21, 2013.
Click here to buy tickets for Fresh Thoughts with Fleet Street Kitchen on May 21.

Click here to buy tickets for all three Fresh Thoughts events. 

National Aquarium is proud to partner with Classic Catering for the Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series.

Sustainable Seafood Q&A with the Rusty Scupper’s Mark Miranda

In honor of our upcoming sustainable seafood Fresh Thoughts dinner in Baltimore, we sat down with featured chef, Mark Miranda of the Rusty Scupper, to get the scoop on how the sustainable dining movement is influencing the dining scene in Baltimore. 

Mark Miranda

Mark Miranda

A chef for more than 30 years, Markl Miranda has served the Rusty Scupper’s renowned Maryland crab cakes and seafood to some of the Monument City’s most monumental appetites. In doing so, Miranda has also shared his passion for preserving the ecology and economy of our community by upholding his restaurant’s commitment to serving only the best quality, sustainable seafood. 

National Aquarium: What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to cook? 

Mark Miranda: My favorite sustainable seafood to cook with is the Stripped Bass, better known as Rockfish. Rockfish is a local favorite that is very versatile.  It can be prepared in a variety of ways.  The Rockfish population is thriving, not only in our area but also throughout the world.

NA: How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?

MM:  As people become more aware and knowledgeable about sustainable seafood, they are paying more attention to restaurants and establishments that use sustainable seafood ingredients.  Customers want to be sure they are supporting environmentally friendly practices so many are choosing restaurants that offer dishes prepared with sustainable seafood. Using sustainable seafood not only helps to build our business, it also allows us to give back to the environment.

NA: What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably? 

MM: There really are no challenges in cooking with sustainable seafood.  However, if you say you are using sustainable seafood, you must be sure the items are sustainable and stick to using them.  Sometimes products can be misleading, so you must pay close attention to the sources of the ingredients to make sure the product is truly sustainable.

NA: In 2013, what is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own)? 

MM: I really enjoy preparing dishes that incorporate the Basa fish.  It is similar to the catfish and growing in popularity.  The Basa fish can be prepared in a variety of ways—from grilling and sautéing to frying and blackened.  When choosing to prepare Basa, it is important that you look for the fish to be U.S. farm-raised as it is farmed in a more ecologically responsible manner than those imported from Asia.

Click here to learn more about our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series in both Washington, DC and Baltimore.


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