Posts Tagged 'sustainable dining'

Sustainable Seafood Q&A with PABU’s Jonah Kim

Our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner with PABU‘s Jonah Kim is next Tuesday, March 25th!Jonah Kim

In advance of his upcoming dinner, we chatted with Chef Kim about how the sustainable seafood movement is influencing Baltimore’s dining scene:

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?
Oysters—I love oysters. Every oyster is different; you can source them from various regions and they come in different tastes and textures. I showcase my love for oysters in PABU’s signature dish, the Happy Spoon. This dish features a raw oyster in ponzu-flavored crème fraîche, topped with fresh uni and two types of fish roe. The combination of sweet and salty makes this one of our guests’ favorite dishes.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?
We’re definitely lucky to be based in the mid-Atlantic region where you can find rockfish, oysters, crabs and more right in our backyard. I think the sustainable seafood movement is gaining momentum in the area, but continuing to grow the public’s awareness of and demand for sustainable seafood is key to growing it in the local dining scene.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?
Cooking sustainably is challenging in Japanese cuisine. Very few Japanese chefs are aware of whether or not ingredients are sustainable. Our goal at PABU is to offer the freshest product to our guests, but sometimes it’s difficult to find sustainable ingredients that are readily available. Hopefully soon, this will change.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?
Clams. Right now we don’t have any menu items featuring clams due to the lack of availability. I’m hoping to get ahold of some in the summer. I’d love to do a fish pairing featuring spicy pork and clams.

Tell us a little bit about PABU and how your team is always churning out such delicious meals!
As the only izakaya in the Baltimore region, PABU’s concept was built from offering small plate menu options highlighting authentic Japanese flavors and local ingredients. At PABU, we pride ourselves on serving our guests the freshest ingredients from all over the world. I believe it’s the balance between texture and sweetness and spice that makes our dishes so unique and memorable.

Where do you get the seafood you serve at PABU?
PABU sources its seafood from all over the world: from the mid-Atlantic all the way to Japan. Our menu items vary according to seasonal availability of ingredients. For example, our soft-shell crabs come from the mid-Atlantic region, but we can only get our hands on those in the summer months.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be…
By making the choice to dine at restaurants that support sustainable seafood, one person can make a change in the health of our oceans.

Can’t wait for the night of the 25th to see Chef Kim in action? He recently stopped by WBAL-TV to share his special Fresh Thoughts recipe for Asian Clam Chowder! Watch his segment here:

Chef Jonah Kim on WBAL

Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Q&A with Chef Chris Becker

About next week’s featured Fresh Thoughts chef, Chris Becker of Fleet Street Kitchen

A Baltimore native and veteran of several of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants, Chef Chris maintains deep

chef-chris-becker

relationships with local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. His contemporary American cuisine at Fleet Street Kitchen is defined in conjunction with the seasonal produce of Cunningham Farms, the restaurant owner’s farm in Cockeysville.

A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, Chef Chris spent time in the kitchens at The Brass Elephant, Linwoods, and The Wine Market in Locust Point. He was noted as one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine and identified as one of “Ten Professionals Under 30 to Watch” by the b newspaper.

At Fleet Street Kitchen, Chef Chris combines both traditional and modern techniques, creating elegant dishes that reflect his intense devotion to his craft.

Can’t wait for next week’s dinner? We chatted with Chris about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region: 

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?

Because I’m new to Maryland seafood, I’m really excited to start using soft-shell crab, which is one of Maryland’s local sustainable seafood products. It’s a really interesting ingredient and very versatile in the way it can be presented, so I’m sure you’ll see it on the menu at Fleet Street Kitchen soon.

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

I think more and more chefs are becoming conscientious about sustainable seafood and this in change is influencing our guests to think about it as well. Because we’re by the Chesapeake Bay, I think it’s easier for people to make the connection between how we fish and the seafood we serve. People are definitely appreciating it more. At Fleet Street Kitchen, we make sure all of our seafood choices are based off the Seafood Watch list and only select the seafood listed as “Good” or “Good Alternative.”

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?

All the great product that’s not sustainable makes it difficult. There’s some great tasting seafood that is overfished. We recently had to stop using monkfish, because it is now in the red on the Seafood Watch List. It’s unfortunate, but it it makes me more creative and exposes people to different types of fish that perhaps they wouldn’t necessarily try.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?

Lionfish & Snakehead. Both are invasive species that are threatening key ecosystems. Lionfish are damaging coral reef ecosystems across the oceans and are actually a great tasting fish. It’d be great to see more of it on Baltimore menus. Snakehead are doing the same here in the Chesapeake Bay. There has been a lot of great press about using snakehead in restaurants. I’m definitely hoping to use both at Fleet Street Kitchen.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …

My hope is to pass along Fleet Street Kitchen’s passion for sustainable seafood and for people to make the connection between the way seafood is harvested and what is on their plate. It’s also important for people to know that they can ask if a fish is sustainable in a restaurant. This lets a restaurant’s chef and staff know that there’s a demand for conscientious ingredients. Most restaurants will appreciate this, even if they aren’t currently serving sustainable products.

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

Addressing Concerns About Our Fresh Thoughts Menu

We’d like to address some recent concerns members of our online community have made about the menu of our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner.

The three-course menu featuring locally-farmed caviar had originally included the preparation of sustainable veal. We’ve received some thoughtful comments on Facebook regarding this controversial meat. We fully understand these sentiments and want to thank our community for their feedback. In response, we’ve decided to take this item off our menu.

The mission of Fresh Thoughts is to raise awareness of sustainable food sources (both seafood and non-seafood) and how those choices can help lessen our negative impact on the environment. Veal is a meat that is still widely-consumed around the world. By including it in this dinner, our intention was to make our guests aware of the fact that there is a way to consume veal sustainably.

Xavier Deshayes, our expert chef, is passionate about serving meals that are environmentally and humanely conscious. The veal that was originally included on the menu of our upcoming dinner had the endorsement of Humane Farm Animal Care, a local nonprofit organization that certifies the responsible treatment of farm animals. Their certification assures consumers that the animals have had ample space, shelter and access to fresh water. It also has strict standards against the use of antibiotics or hormones.

National Aquarium does not endorse the general consumption of veal. However, for those who regularly include the meat as a part of their diet, we encourage you to take a moment to consider getting your veal from a sustainable source and one with the endorsement of Humane Farm Animal Care or a similar organization.

Again, we sincerely apologize for any personal offense caused by our decision to include veal on our menu and we hope that we’ve made our original intentions clear! If you’d like to speak further with our team about this issue, please email social@aqua.org.

To learn more about our Fresh Thoughts program, click here.

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


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers