Flounder, tuna, cod, salmon: Visit any fish market and these (along with a few others) are the species you’ll find. Readily available and tasty, they are what the home cook relies upon when fish is on the menu.
Problem is, our appetite for seafood is putting a severe strain on the planet’s oceans. According towww.overfishing.org, more than 25% of the world’s fish stocks are depleted.
One way to reduce overfishing is to use sustainably sourced seafood. “A study of recipes in cookbooks published over more than a century confirms that we used to eat smaller fish but have shifted our preferences to larger predatory species,” says chef Barton Seaver, author ofFor Cod and Country (Sterling Epicure).
How to Find Sustainable Seafood
Seaver explains that while in general eating smaller, more quickly replenished species such as herrings and sardines is a good idea, there are shades of nuance caused by differences in fishing techniques.
Seaver cites mahi mahi as an example. Currently at healthy levels, this mild-flavored fish is either pole caught, a sustainable method, or caught with long lines that sometimes employ thousands of hooks, which can accidentally ensnare seabirds and turtles.
Since you can’t tell the difference in the store, “your only defense is to patronize a well-informed fishmonger who cares about where his or her fish are coming from,” Seaver says. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the origin of your purchase and how it was caught. (To learn more, visitwww.cleanfish.com.)
A good fishmonger will also carry high-quality product. Fresh fish should smell sweet; whole fish should have bright eyes and scales, while fillets should be firm with no discoloration. If not used in a day or two, fresh fish should be frozen.
Finding a source of sustainable seafood will please both your palate and your conscience.
Wild Striped Bass with Cilantro-Onion Salad
1 ripe avocado
3 tbsp plain yogurt
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 5-oz portions skin-on striped bass fillet
1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only (about 3 cups loosely packed)
1 small onion, very thinly sliced
Chipotle Tabasco sauce, optional
Yield: 4 servingsReprinted with permission ofFor Cod & Country by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure) © 2011
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.