Posts Tagged 'sustainable living'

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

Guest Post: Fighting Seafood Fraud Protects Our Health and the Environment

government affairs and policy update

Today’s post comes from Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH. She is the Director of the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In her role, Jillian works to engage public health communities in research, communication, education, policy, and advocacy activities aiming to increase understanding of the public health implications of industrial aquaculture practices and to move toward more sustainable and responsible methods of production. 

In support of that important work, Jillian is a strong advocate here in Maryland for the fight against seafood fraud.

Are you getting the seafood you are paying for? Maybe not– an investigation by Oceana revealed last year that a third of seafood sampled in the U.S. was mislabeled. In an effort to reduce seafood fraud, The Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act was introduced in this year’s state legislative session, and I strongly support the bill due to the potential effects of mislabeled seafood on human health, fish populations, and the environment.

People choose the seafood species they eat based on many factors—how it tastes, health benefits, if it’s responsibly fished or farmed, and if it’s generally known to have low contaminant levels. Many seafood guides exist, such as the popular Seafood Watch from Monterey Bay Aquarium, to help consumers make choices about seafood, but efforts to educate consumers about safe and environmentally sustainable fish have a reduced impact if seafood is not accurately labeled.

monterey bay aquarium seafood watch

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide.

When purchasing wild-caught fish, consumers should seek species known to be from well-managed fisheries to avoid overfishing and bycatch concerns. In the case of farm-raised fish, it should be from an operation that avoids use of chemicals, antibiotics, high densities of fish, and feed made mostly from small fish caught in the ocean (this contributes to overfishing). In addition, certain fish carry advisories, especially for pregnant women and young children, to limit or avoid due to contamination of heavy metals or chemicals.

Oceana’s investigation found overfished species sold as fish from well managed fisheries (e.g., Atlantic halibut as Pacific halibut), farmed fish sold as wild-caught (e.g., farmed tilapia as red snapper), and fish with health advisories being sold as fish with no advisories (e.g., tilefish as red snapper and halibut).

One goal of educating consumers about healthy and sustainable seafood options is to shift demand and change commercial fishing and aquaculture practices. But, if producers can pass off their product as a fish known to be safe and ecologically sustainable, there is little incentive to change practices due to market forces. This also puts honest wild-caught fishers and fish farmers at a disadvantage. To increase demand for fish that are safe and caught or produced sustainably, we need to know what we are eating and where it comes from, and that is why we need better monitoring and enforcement of seafood labeling in Maryland.

For more information on Jillian and the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project’s work, click here. For more information on The Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act, click here


Thoughtful Thursdays: Be A Mean, Green Grilling Machine This Father’s Day!

national aquarium families expert

In appreciation of all that our dads and other special role models do, join the National Aquarium this Father’s Day by celebrating together and “greening the grill”! Father’s Day is a great way to spend quality time with the family outdoors, whether it’s grilling by the pool, taking a hike or exploring a local shore!

If you have grilling or barbecuing plans for this Father’s Day, check out these three ways to make your grill healthier for your family (and the planet):

  1. Gas or Charcoal?
    We all love that smoky, outdoorsy flavor we get from charcoal, but did you know that charcoal smoke contains three times the level of carbon dioxide compared to gas grills? In addition, the high levels of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by charcoal contribute to smog. Charcoal (both lump and briquettes) also take a great deal of energy to produce. Plus, the only place to put the chemically treated charcoal ashes is the trash can. At least with propane or natural gas, you can recycle and refill the containers over and over.
  2. Sun and Done
    Making your own solar-powered oven is the ultimate green choice because even natural gas and propane require less-than-ideal processes to extract or produce the fuel. Solar ovens can reach over 250 degrees, allowing you to cook almost anything, including meats, vegetables, baked beans and chili.If you’re looking for a great do-it-yourself project for the family this Father’s Day, try your hand at making a solar oven. All you need is a few supplies, less than $50 and a plan. The folks at Solar Cookers International can help you get started!
  3. Local Eats
    Did you know the average fresh food item travels 1,500 miles to get to your grill? That’s a lot of fuel used for transportation, processing, packaging and refrigeration. Getting your grillin’ groceries at a farmer’s market, summer roadside stand or store with local food tastes fresher, supports the local economy and uses far less energy. To locate your nearest farmer’s market or locally sourced grocery store, click here.

Got plans to go out and enjoy nature with Dad this weekend? Share them with me in the comments section! 


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


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

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

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)


  • 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


  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

We’re Starting the New Year Off Right! Our Resolutions for 2013

Happy 2013! Are you making resolutions this year? We want to help!

The following is a list of the 10 most common New Year’s resolutions. We’ve taken these goals and added tips so they not only benefit you, but the world we live in, too!

  • Eat Healthier
    Eat food that has been certified organic, or better yet, grow your own! Many of the foods in the grocery store have been over-processed or treated with chemicals. To make sure you (and our planet) remain healthy, choose foods that are simple. Rule of thumb: The best foods have only one ingredient!
  • Lose Weight (as in Waste, Not Waist)
    How many pounds of garbage do you send to the landfill each week? Could you cut that in half by the end of the year? Simple steps to meet this goal include: recycling (check out for tips on recycling almost anything); composting; buying less stuff; and purchasing items with minimal packaging.
  • Quit Smoking (Drive Less)
    According to the EPA, the exhaust from an average passenger car adds up to 10,000 pounds of chemicals each year to our atmosphere! Start with a pledge to go car-less once a week. Use public transportation, ride your bike, carpool, or telecommute. If you need to use a car, purchase one with high fuel efficiency, make sure it is well-maintained, and properly inflate your tires.
  • Learn Something New
    Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that the fur of a sloth grows in the opposite direction than most mammals? Every time you visit National Aquarium or even pay a virtual visit to, you will see and learn so many new things!

    giant pacific octopus

    My heart(s) beat for you!

  • Get Out of Debt (Save Money)
    Many of the steps you take to help the environment can also save you money! One big step toward this goal is to stop purchasing disposable items. In the end, a one-time purchase of a reusable option will save you some cash!
  • Spend More Time with Friends and Family
    Did you know National Aquarium offers not only a family membership, but also a couple and grandparent membership? Plus, you can add on a guest option to any of these membership packages for just $50. You can bring a different friend every time you visit!
  • Enjoy Life More (Stress Less)
    Sometimes we worry so much about saving the aquatic world that we forget to enjoy it. Take time this year to reconnect with nature, and take advantage of the beauty and bounty your nearby national park or wildlife refuge has to offer. Walk by the water, listen to the birds sing, savor some locally caught sustainable seafood, and remember why we work to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.
  • Volunteer
    You always feel better about yourself when you are helping others! Pledge to volunteer at least four times this year and really make a difference. National Aquarium offers plenty of volunteer opportunities, both at the Aquarium and at conservation events throughout the year!
dolphin count

We need volunteers at all types of events – even standing on the beach for our annual Dolphin Count! (You can do that, right?)

  • Quit Drinking
    Bottled water, that is! This one is a no-brainer. Bottled water is a waste of your money and our earth’s resources. Reusable water bottles can be purchased just about anywhere – even at our store! Join us as a volunteer and we may even give you one at our conservation events!
  • Get Organized
    Organize your own neighborhood trash cleanup, storm drain stenciling event, or community garden! These events not only help build a strong community, they also help build a stronger planet. If you want to start small, simply support your local watershed organization in its efforts to create cleaner and healthier communities.

By adopting just ONE of these resolutions (but feel free to adopt them all!), you’ll be kick-starting an amazing 2013!

What other goals and resolutions have you set for yourself? 

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