Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fish for thought...responsible eating

I couldn't resist doing a quick post on Mark Bittman's article on eating fish responsibly in today's NY Times Dining section. In "Loving Fish, This Time With the Fish in Mind," Bittman writes of the woes and confusion around the eating of fish and seafood. Talk of wild v. farmed, overfishing, pollution, antibiotics and aiming to go sustainable around fish has been hot and heavy for a good number of years now. With so many varieties of fish (Atlantic v. Pacific v. who knows where), it's hard to decipher restaurant menus let alone labels at your local grocery store or fish monger. I do my best to make eco-conscious, sustainable decisions when deciding what to order, but it's tough and either you're left completely confused, completely guilt-ridden or completely hungry when you leave the table. For a great site to double check the sustainability of your favorite fish or seafood, checkout Seafood Watch or follow them on Twitter for the latest underwater updates. You can even download a regional seafood pocket guide to see what's most ocean-friendly in your area.

Here's Bittman's quick takeaway tips for when you're next in the mood for fish:

My approach — which I readily admit is a work in progress and is as imperfect as my approach to all foods — goes something like this:

I don’t buy or order the common fish I can easily keep in mind as being super-troubled — most cod, for example, or bluefin tuna, most species of shark and skate. When in doubt, I move on.

With rare exceptions, I don’t buy or order farm-raised fish, except clams and oysters. Farmed mussels and shrimp don’t seem to come with egregious environmental consequences, but neither tastes like much, either.

I don’t eat fish as often as I once did. (I don’t promote eating it as I once did, either.)

And I keep re-evaluating these “rules,” and thinking about them. The “safe” lists are difficult to understand, impossible to remember and change frequently. When the fishing of a species is well managed, it can recover and become sustainable. When it’s not, the stocks of that fish disappear, sometimes quickly.

I’m probably not going to stop eating fish. And fortunately I don’t have to, since there are species that have never been depleted — squid and mackerel, for example — and those that have recovered, like haddock and Maine lobster.

And finally, here's an enticing recipe for Lobster with Pasta and Mint that accompanied the article.


1 1 1/2 -pound live lobster

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Crushed red chili flakes to taste

1 pound long pasta, like linguine

1/2 cup chopped mint, or to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put about an inch of water into another large pot, add a not-too-big pinch of salt, put in lobster and cover pot. Steam lobster until it is red, about 3 minutes; you do not have to cook it through. Remove it and keep water simmering with cover off. As soon as you can, remove lobster’s tail and claws; return body to simmering liquid. Remove meat from claws and tail and return shells to pot; chop meat roughly.

2. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and lobster meat and toss; cook until it sizzles, then add chili flakes and lower heat. Strain lobster-cooking water, discarding body and shells; you will want a couple of cups.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until it is not even close to tender, but just bending. Drain it, reserving some cooking liquid if you have less than 2 cups of lobster liquid. Add pasta to lobster/garlic mixture, with about a cup of lobster liquid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, adding more liquid as necessary. Stop cooking when pasta is tender, taking care not to add too much liquid.

4. Taste and add more salt, chili flakes or olive oil if you like. Stir in the mint and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

No comments: