Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Something fishy.....and being sustainable

One of my workmates (and ex-chef) Ben very generously gave me a jar of his own homemade hot chilli jam this morning, made with chillies grown in his own garden. I decided I was going to use it somehow in dinner tonight and I had also been craving seafood, so on the way home from work I stopped at the fishmonger to see what looked good.

I picked up a few prawns, a couple of scallops and a small piece of Blue-Eye Cod. I had some of the braised leek/tomato mixture from last night in the fridge, so I added a cup of vegetable stock to it, a handful of black olives and a spoon full of Ben's chilli jam and made a spicy broth. (Full marks on the chilli jam by the way Ben - it had a lot of heat and also a beautiful flavour with just the right acidity. Yum!) For the seafood, I mixed a tablespoon of flour and a teaspoon of paprika together, dusted the seafood lightly in it and then cooked the fish , prawns and scallops in a pan with a touch of olive oil till golden. The whole process literally took 15mins from start to finish and it definitely satisfied my desire for seafood and chilli tonight. The seafood was super fresh and the dish was full of flavour.

So, here it is, Pan fried seafood in leek, olive and tomato broth (featuring Ben's chilli jam) .....

Living my childhood on the coast of Western Australia, I grew up with seafood, and I have not lost my love for it as I have gotten older. I have memories of stiflingly hot nights in the 70's on the banks of The Swan River, waiting expectantly for the return of the prawn nets, hearing them dragged through the dark water full of school prawns that flicked you with their spiky tails and made us squeal and drop them on the sand. If you were lucky, the haul would also include vibrantly coloured Blue Manna, Blue Swimmer Crabs or glossy black river mussels, all of which would later be devoured at the kitchen table, still steaming from the pot, eaten with vinegary fingers, crusty white bread and lashings of butter. It was the simplest but most delicious of feasts.

Sadly, in 2009 we see fish stocks around the world seriously depleted, with many species being threatened or wiped out due to destruction of habitat or overfishing. In recent years I have become very aware of the impact my consumer choices have on this situation and I have consciously been trying to make better choices, avoiding species that are overfished or in danger of being so. The Australian Marine Conservation Society are a great source of information on the subject. For more info, go to http://www.amcs.org.au/default2.asp?active_page_id=137

For quick reference, here is a list to help you choose wisely, but it is by no means a complete list, just a starting point. I have included alternative names for some of the species.

Fish/Seafood to avoid: Blue Warehou, Black Trevally, Sea Bream, Hake, Silver Kingfish, Redfish, Red Snapper, Southern Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Shark, Flake, Silver Trevally, Silver/White Trevally, Sea Perch, Orange Roughy, Swordfish, rainbow Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Brown Tiger Prawn, Rock Lobster, Coral Crayfish, Sea Cucumber, Tasmanian Scallop, King Scallop, Baby Octopus (Thailand)

More sustainable choices: Hoki, Blue Grenadier, Barramundi, Blue Eye Cod, Deep Sea Trevalla, Blue Eye Trevalla, Bream, Yellowfin Tuna, Flathead, King George Whiting (but avoid whiting from Western Australia as the fishery is closed), Trumpeter, Sand Whiting, Mackarel, Mullet, Yellow Eye, Ling, Rock Ling, Snapper, Red Bream,Tailor, Blufish, Skipjack, Coral Trout, Balmain/Moreton Bay Bugs, Western Rock Lobster, Calamari, Cuttlefish, Squid, Octopus, Blue Mussel, Green Mussel, BlueSwimmer Crab.


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