October 13, 2007

Celebrating Sustainable Seafood

October is an activity-packed month.

Pink ribbons appear everywhere in the month of October, promoting Breast Cancer awareness around the world. In the United States we celebrate Columbus Day--Latin American countries call it Dia de la Raza or Dia de las Culturas-- commemorating the discovery of the Americas in 1492. And at the end of the month, many western nations celebrate Halloween in accordance with their own cultural traditions. From a food-loving perspective, October is National Seafood Month in the United States. Jacqueline of Leather District Gourmet is taking a bit of poetic license, calling it Sustainable Seafood Month and hosting a delightful event around it.

Jacqueline explains her event: "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to fish/cook sustainably and we'll all eat better, longer." She's afraid it's not catchy. I found it compelling.

One fifteen minute session with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch website and one thirty minute conversation with my local fishmonger later, a healthy fillet of wild-caught Alaskan halibut was on my dinner menu.

According to the aquarium, Pacific halibut are bottom-dwelling groundfish. Primarily found in the coastal North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, they migrate hundreds of miles from shallow coastal waters to the deep, open ocean to spawn in winter. Afterwards, most return, year after year, to their same coastal feeding grounds. In Alaska, fishing for Pacific halibut is strictly limited to the bottom longlining method, which causes little habitat damage and has low bycatch associated with it.

My fishmonger confirmed that the halibut I'd chosen had been caught off the coast of Alaska using the longline method, stored at near freezing temperature for its trip to California and butchered and filleted four or five hours before I walked in the door.

Now the big question...what to do with it? I'd bookmarked this recipe for Sesame-Crusted Yellowtail and hadn't gotten around to trying it yet. I had most of the other ingredients on hand, so I decided to use the halibut as a more sustainable substitute and served it with a simple mixed green salad. It turned out amazing... buttery on the inside, crispy on the outside. It's a long ingredient list, but mostly staples in my kitchen. It's easy to assemble and plates pretty enough for company. It's now on my short list of go-to seafood recipes.

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Anonymous said...

Hey it's 2008 - Teach a Man to Fish is on again...are you with us?