For the novice fish buyer, the seafood counter can be daunting. We are often paralyzed by the choices and a lack of understanding about what is a great sustainable seafood choice. At the W2O members event this month, Heather Tausag, from the NEAq started off by saying, ”Buying seafood over meat is always the best choice. It is a choice that is better for the environment as well as for our health. Knowing the benefits should make us all want to experiment with new selections at the seafood counter.” Heather and NEAq staff member, Elizabeth Fitzsimons, also talked about the great shellfish options available all year long. They explained the strict US regulations for monitoring the bays where the shellfish is caught and NEAq Executive Chef Bill Bradley explained some cooking options. The take-away “You can never go wrong ordering shellfish”.
Next, we learned that all canned fish can be a great trusted staple. Even canned tuna is a good choice. That being said, not all countries adhere to the regulations and the fish do not see the boundaries. The package labeling will guide us toward the highly regulated sustainable USA products, which is a great choice for the environment. It also sends a message of support to our local fishermen.
Anchovies are the underrated fish. Most often the anchovy is a food source for the larger fish and has not been cultivated as a dining option. Chef Bradley provided tasty fried anchovy stuffed olives (recipe below!) as an appetizer. Elizabeth and Heather explained the many health benefits of the fish which are packed with vitamins and selenium (which has benefits for a healthy heart and has been prescribed as a healthy food to cancer patients). Because some view anchovy as “fishy” and associate it with what is served in a Caesar Salad, it is a not a typical choice for the home cook. The advice from Chef Bradley was to start out slowly by incorporating an anchovy paste (found at Wholefoods and other specialty shops) into a pasta dish for flavor and great nutrition.
Chef Bradley, cooked with ease as he explained how to poach fish. Arctic Char was the choice for the evening. Delicious! Check out the Neaq.com
website for some recipes.
All the guests asked great questions and showed a thirst for knowledge about sustainable seafood choices. Overall the best advice was to “experiment with different fish and recipes to broaden the seafood menu in our homes”. Events like this one helps share the important information regarding the choices that we make regarding our health and the health of our oceans. We should all continue to ask questions of our waitstaff, chefs, seafood counter help and owners. Asking these questions about where and how the fish is raised or caught assists in menu choices, product lines and consumer information.
This event was fantastic. The information was well thought out and provided useful tips for our everyday busy lives.
Michelle Vilms is a consultant and a member of W2O. She is also an Overseer at the New England Aquarium.
For the: Anchovy Filling
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
4 anchovy fillets, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil or butter as needed
Salt and pepper
Method: Combine all ingredients in a in a food processor and puree to a paste. Add some extra virgin olive oil or butter as needed to make the paste smooth. (You may add water instead to cut down on fat content.) Place filling in a plastic pastry bag and set aside.
For the: Olives
24 green Sicilian olives
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, whipped
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
Method: Fill each olive with the anchovy filling. Roll each filled olive in flour (make sure the olive is completely covered with flour), then dip in the egg (again make sure the olive is completely covered in egg.) Finally, roll the olive in the bread crumbs. Place olives in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the breading adheres. When ready to serve heat oil in a sauce pan to 325 degrees. Place olives in the oil, 8 at a time, and fry until golden brown. Serve warm.