Celebrate Summer and Sustainable Seafood with this Grilled Barramundi and Avocado Orange Salsa Recipe

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Grilled Barramundi with Avocado Orange SalsaDive into the summer grilling season and celebrate the warm weather and sustainable seafood with this recipe. Avocado orange salsa dazzles the tastebuds, while grilled barramundi makes this the perfect recipe for holiday cook-outs like the upcoming 4th of July, Labor Day, or even just your everyday, backyard family gathering.

Interested in learning more about barramundi? Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's barraumundi factsheet for more info.

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Serves: 6   Prep Time: 2   Cook Time: 10

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Grilled Barramundi and Avocado Orange Salsa

Ingredients:

  • Six, 6oz Barramundi fillets (each should be 2 to 3 inches wide)

  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp per fillet)

  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

Avocado Salsa
  • 1 ripe avocado

  • Juice of 1/2 lime

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 1 orange

  • 1 scallion

  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Prepare the grill: Start by setting the grill up for cooking with direct high heat. Preheat the grill for 15 minutes, then clean the grill grate thoroughly. For my Weber Summit, I turn all the burners to to high and wait fifteen minutes. Then I brush the grate with my grill brush, and wipe the grate with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.

  2. Prepare the barramundi: While the grill is preheating, sprinkle the barramundi filets with the salt and pepper, then rub with the vegetable oil.

  3. Prepare the avocado salsa: Cut the avocado into a 1/2" dice, and toss in a small bowl with the lime juice. Cut the red bell pepper into a 1/2" dice, section the orange (directions here), and dice the scallion. Add all these to the bowl with the avocado, and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Grill the barramundi: Place the barramundi on the grill over direct high heat, flesh side down. Grill for three minutes, then gently work a spatula under the barramundi and flip skin side down. Grill for three more minutes, or until the barramundi is just opaque in the thickest part; I check by pushing along the natural seams with a paring knife. It is OK to let it cook longer on this side; the skin will protect the fish from burning. Once it is done, gently work a spatula under the barramundi and move to a platter.

To serve, spoon a heaping tablespoon of avocado salsa over each barramundi filet. Serve, passing any extra salsa at the table.

3 Lessons from the Sustainable Seafood Institute

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Sustainable Seafood...Who Will Be Winners and Who Will Be Losers in the Coming Sea Change?

On April 29, 2013, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii made a startling find: for the first time in human history, CO2 concentrations in the earth's atmosphere had climbed above 400 parts per million. Just one more data point marking the dawn of the Anthropocene era. .

We are in the Age of Man. 

In case you missed it, there is growing agreement that we are now living in a new epoch: the Anthropocene era, or the Age of Man. Having just recently returned from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Institute, it’s clear that the Anthropocene era is bringing a change to the seas, too.
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First, some facts to bring you up to speed on the state of our plate in 2013 when it comes to fish.
  • Seafood is the largest traded food commodity in the world.
  • 86% of the seafood we eat is imported.
  • 50% of imported seafood is from aquaculture.
  • According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 2012 marks another major milestone: for the first time in human history aquaculture is expected to outpace wild stocks as the top source of the seafood.
  • Over 1 billion of the planet’s inhabitants in developing countries rely on seafood for high quality protein.
  • There will be winners and losers in climate change. Read on to see who they are.
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Ocean Chemistry is Changing. 

Here’s what else was clear at this year’s Institute: a suite of factors is driving unprecedented change in ocean chemistry. Sea levels are rising as polar ice caps melt. Ocean temperatures are hotter, so fish are moving-migrating towards both poles in search of cooler temps. Which means fleets have to travel farther, and fish deeper, to catch fewer fish. And tropical fish living near the equator are reaching their thermal maximum.
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While there are higher temps, there is also a lower pH (meaning an increase in ocean acidity) as carbon pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution is absorbed by the oceans.  According to Dr. Tessa Hill, a marine researcher from at University of California Davis (whose team grows sea creatures in conditions predicted in the next 100 years), mussels and oysters are already having a harder time extracting the minerals they need to make shells out of the water-resulting in smaller, thinner weaker shells that make them more susceptible to predators. Love oysters? Her research suggests that they may not be able to survive the coming changes.
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Jellyfish, on the other hand, are thriving in all of this change.
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Fun stuff, right? Not the easy-breezy topic of most blogs, I’ll admit. But this quote has stuck with me:
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"The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."  
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As consumers at the top of the global protein seafood chain, what America buys at the seafood counter and in sushi bars are key leverage points in the system. Indeed, one of the big challenges is that it’s hard to grasp any of this from looking at your local fish counter or sushi menu.
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Here’s what you can do to help heal our oceans-and ensure that we preserve some of the planet’s healthiest protein sources for our children.
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The Fish Counter Is A Key Leverage Point.  Try these 4 New Fish Now.Fresh sardines on wooden board

Currently, more than 1/2 of the seafood we consume come from “the big 3”: shrimp, salmon and tuna. To give some of these species (as well as those, like Chilean Seabass, which have been overfished) a break, check out these 4 new delicious fish right now, from my latest Dr. OZ blog, to help heal the oceans and nourish your body.
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Other resources: 

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Monday I’ll share one of my favorite recipes with one of my favorite buys - barramundi - to get you started! Stay tuned!

From Fjord to Fork? My Firsthand Look at a Norwegian Salmon Farm

kate with norwegian salmon I know I’ve been on a fish kick lately, but because June 8th is World Oceans Day, because the newly minted USDA Dietary guidelines recommend eating 2 servings of omega-3 rich fish each week, and because I was  recently invited by the Norwegian Seafood Council to visit the stunningly beautiful country of Norway (one of the world’s largest suppliers of both farmed and wild fish) to see their Norwegian salmon farming operations, I’m still hooked on it.

As I recently blogged, fish is awash in challenges for many reasons, but I came away from my trip to Norway with some refreshingly simple takeaways. Given that this is a blog (read: short and sweet) and not a research treaty, I’ll just boil down the key issues that gave me hope and confidence about what I saw. (Please note: my comments only relate to what I experienced in Norway, and do not constitute a broad brush stroke of all farmed salmon by any means).

 

Norway is as stringent about good clean fish as Europe is about good clean food.

Call it the “halo effect” I feel for Europe when it comes to defending their food supply from frankenfoods; I admire Europe for how much much more vigorously they defend their food (consider that the controversial milk hormone rbST is banned in the EU, and that strawberry sundae you buy at a local fast food chain in the US has Red Dye #40 in it, while in Europe it contains beet juice extract).

I was relieved to discover the same rigor extends all the way north to those chilly Norwegians fisheries as well. I (as did many of you) had several questions prior to my trip: Here’s a quick summary of the facts of what’s happening in the fjords of Norway.

No GMO Norwegian salmon. The mere question of it on my part was quickly dismissed as “not an option at all”, when I asked Livar Froyland, PhD, of Norway’s National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research. The salmon they raise are genetically identical to the Norway’s traditional salmon populations.

No GMO in the salmon feed. “We wouldn’t eat it, why would we feed it to our fish?” he asked me, as we were standing out in the misty platform of the fish farm. (I had a hard time thinking John Stossel might get a similar comment when checking out our poultry or meat industry). Also, there are no hormones or antibiotics in the feed.

Antibiotic use has been dramatically reduced. (compared to 10 or 15 years ago). This has been accomplished through the use of vaccines instead. While you have to decide how you personally feel about vaccines, it’s worth noting the organic livestock & poultry in America and Europe are also treated with vaccines.

Sea lice? Managed organically. Norway now has a program which uses “cleaning fish” in the pens which keep the salmon free of sea lice.

Best practices. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Norway is ranked number one in the world when it comes to compliance with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) code of conduct for responsible fishing. Things like managing waste, fish pen conditions, and relationship to surrounding ecosystems are all included with this ranking, and Norway comes out on top according to the UN.

Fish feed. This one is still a work in progress, and admittedly is one of the challenges facing aquaculture (and livestock feeds) worldwide. Currently, about 35% of the fish feed comes from a combination of fish oil and fish meal, and the remainder a combination of grains, other oils, vitamins, etc.

 

 

The risk of NOT eating fish far outweighs the risk of eating fish.

Of course parents everywhere just want what’s best, safest and healthiest for their kids (I have a 4 and 5 year old and feel the same way) but fish is one exception when it’s very possible you’ll be doing more harm than good by leaving fish off the shopping list.

With the 2004 study sounding the alarm that farmed salmon contained 4-10X more PCBs and dioxins than wild, the media was whipped into a frenzy and the nuance was lost as the takeaway become “avoid eating farmed fish at all costs”. Missing from the story?  What are the risks of not eating fish?” Turns out they are actually much, much more significant, especially for pregnant women, where skipping fish potentially deprives the developing brain of vital nutrients. (The growing brain loves DHA, and DHA is 50% by weight of some brain cells. DHA increases 300-500% in an infant's brain during the last trimester of pregnancy).

 

 

 

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Harvard School of Medicine’s Dr. Dariush Mozafarian, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, one of the world’s leading experts on fats and heart disease, framed the issue in clear terms for us while on the trip: “With kids, the science is clear; eating fish is linked to a significantly higher IQ than not eating fish-even when all the potential for mercury and PCB contaminations are factored into the equation.”

In fact, a 2007 study found that the children whose mothers avoided fish had almost double the risk of a low IQ by age 8. Also important: the children who did the best in the IQ testing were those whose mothers ate more than 12 ounces of fish per week while pregnant.

The science is equally shocking and strong when it comes to America’s number one killer, heart disease: “You are 10 times more likely to die of sudden death from a heart attack if you don’t eat fish,” says Mozafarian-making fish literally the first line of treatment for the primary prevention of cardiac death. Those odds completely overwhelm even the most powerful cholesterol lowering drugs on the market today (and consider that if you smoke, you’re just 7 times as likely to die of lung cancer.)

The bottom line is eat more fish, especially more omega-3 packed fish, period. The benefits far outweigh risk for almost everyone-if you have children or are thinking of becoming pregnant, government advisories (avoid shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel) are sound guideposts.  Frankly, a much more important thing to avoid during pregnancy is pesticides on produce, which recent studies have connected to lower IQs in children.

 

 

Wild Alaskan Salmon is amazing, but we need other options too. While I typically cite wild Alaskan salmon (especially if you live on the west coast), as the leanest & greenest choice you can make, the reality is that there simply isn’t enough salmon swimming right now for every American to enjoy wild Alaskan salmon twice a week for the rest of their lives. And if the controversial Pebble Mine project happens up in Bristol Bay, we might need a backup plan for what we tell families to put on their table-think of the Gulf Oil spill and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Few, if any, seafood options (including salmon) come with zero health or environmental considerations, but Norway has done a world-class job of linking responsible fisheries with ocean preservation and food security-two of the biggest challenges facing the world in our lifetime. And remember that the science suggests that fish, even farmed fish, is always a better choice for dinner, from both a lean AND eco-friendly standpoint, when compared to other staples such as beef or pork.

 

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One last thought...

 

We absolutely love farmers in America-is it possible that some “farmers” of the ocean could love their fish, their sea, and a commitment to sustainability as much?

American farmers these days are akin to civic rockstars. Meeting these fish farmers, whose Nordic ancestors have literally been working in, eating from and managing these fjords for millennia, who told me proudly that “they could tell which fjord the sardine came from just by the taste”, got me thinking: might some fish farmers in the world be just as committed to ocean health, sustainability as their land locked cousins, equally proud to bring you “from fjord to fork? After all, humans from Hawaii to Japan have actually been farming fish for millennia; can the best of today’s fish farmers play a critical role in helping to preserve the ocean and still feed our planet’s exploding population? I think yes.

 

Next month, I’m on to vegetables!

 

Written with the help of Lindsey Toth, MS, RD

7 Myths About Sustainable Seafood and Sustainable Seafood Recipes

sustainable seafoodIn terms of a powerful lever you can push in our food system to tip it towards “sustainable”, you can’t get much bigger than fish; it lands right up there with meat at the top of the heap when it comes to eco-impact. Yet it’s also one of Earth’s healthiest protein sources (packed with a litany of other benefits, ranging from Omega-3s to selenium to vitamin D), so we nutritionists love to put it on the pedestal of ultimate healthy eating.

But how to choose? Awash in a maze of murky decisions (Which species? Troll or pole? Farmed or wild? Fresh or frozen? ), seafood can be daunting to navigate. So for Earth Day, I chatted with ocean advocate and visionary seafood chef Barton Seaver, whose new cookbook For Cod and Country dishes up sustainable seafood that somehow manages to be dazzling, delicious, yet totally doable for the home chef. Trust me, you’ll be hooked.

 

My goal? To help consumers push that most powerful lever - the U.S. Pocketbook - in the direction of ocean health. All at once creating better health within yourself (seafood is a hallmark of a healthy, protective, long living diet) and the web of life on which we depend.

If you do one thing for Earth Day today, spend some time thinking blue (oceans, that is) instead of green, with my list of Myth Busters below.

 

Myth #1: Don’t shop a big box chains if you want sustainable.

 

Truth: Big-box retailers are helping make sustainable seafood more available to all Americans.

 

Call it the rise of responsible retail. “Many well-known retailers have made strong commitments in recent years to selling only product that meets rigorous standards,” notes Seaver. “This is a great boon for consumers, as we become able to trust retailers to have nothing but the right ingredients for sale. However, that does not absolve us of our responsibility to be well-informed and to demand answers to questions of where our seafood is caught, how it is caught, and who caught it.”

Kate’s Tip: Support Target, Safeway, Wegmans and Whole Foods. A new Greenpeace report ranked them in that order for being the top retail outlets in the country for sustainable seafood.

Myth #2: Decide on a fish recipe and make a shopping list.

 

Truth: Be open to the catch of the day.

Truth be told, I was busted on this one myself. While I love the idea of people planning a healthy meal they can feel good about, Barton’s logic is sound: Consumers too often head to the seafood counter with pre-ordained expectations: we tend to find a recipe online and then go to the seafood market to find what the recipe tells us to buy. Rather than demanding that specific fish be available at all times, we should instead go to the market and find what's freshest, most beautiful, and best fits our budget. In doing so, consumers can participate in the natural, seasonal cycle of fisheries.” A better strategy? Adopt the same approach you use when you hit the farmer’s market: see what’s in s

eason and what’s freshest. Your reward will likely be that you’ll enjoy the unexpected.

Kate’s Tip: Ask your fishmonger how to prepare a new fish. Or pair an unfamiliar fish with your favorite fish marinade, fresh chopped herbs and olive oil, or spice rub and stick under the broiler (for thinner fish) or on the grill (for thicker fish or kebobs.)

Myth #3: Farmed fish are bad.

 

Truth: Farmed fish must be part of the sustainability solution.

 

While things like wild Alaskan Salmon and regionally caught “Best Choice” fish on seafood guides are fantastic, the reality is that ocean catch has remained static since the 1980s in the face of a growing global population. “As our population grows, the oceans and their wild bounty can no longer afford us all of the protein that we need, and overall, farmed seafood represents an incredible opportunity to feed the world without fishing our oceans bare,” explains Barton, who’s also a National Geographic Fellow and deeply involved with ocean conservation efforts.

My personal prediction is that the next wave of seafood guides won’t simply lump all farmed fish in one “bad” pile, but make distinctions based on individual practices, and Barton seems to agree. “As with all things, it's hard to paint aquaculture with a broad brushstroke of good or bad. Some of the species that we farm most often such as Atlantic salmon and shrimp, have had some very deleterious effects on our environment. Yet, even within those categories, some companies and farms are making great progress toward developing farming methods that not only produce delicious product but also do so in a way that's environmentally responsible. Other species that are commonly farmed such as bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters), catfish, and barramundi, are exceptional examples of how we can gain delicious protein with minimal impact on the environments that produce them.”

Kate’s Tip: Choose from many of the farm raised “Best Choices” on the sustainable seafood guides-and if you are buying farmed salmon, consider the different environmental regulations of each country (in my opinion, Norway is one of the best.)

Myth #4: Sustainable seafood is a luxury for the rich.

 

Truth: Sustainable seafood provides some of the most affordable, high quality protein bargains in the grocery store.

 

This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions of all: that some of the best seafood for you and the planet is available only to those with large food budgets. In fact, the opposite is true.Sustainable seafood definitely doesn't have to be expensive,” Barton says. “In fact, some of the very best options we have - canned sardines, anchovies, pink salmon, mussels, clams, oysters - are relatively cheap, are available nearly everywhere and to everyone at all economic levels.”

Kate’s Tip: Feeling bold? Enjoy canned sardines right out of the can, like my husband does. Or mash a couple sardines in your next tomato sauce for deeper taste and better health. I love Wild Planet because they come in BPA free cans and are sustainably fished in the Pacific Northwest. Make salmon burgers or a salmon melt from canned salmon, or try Barton’s bold and delicious Clams and Mussels en Escabeche (see recipe at end of this post).

Myth #5: The fish counter is the best place for sustainable seafood.

 

Truth: The freezer and inner aisles are the best place for sustainable seafood.

 

Most people are shocked to learn that, due to the highly perishable nature of seafood, retailers end up throwing away about 30% of the product that enters the store. Thirty percent! “One of the other powerful levers consumers can exercise is to buy seafood in the frozen aisle,” suggests Barton. “Frozen seafood has evolved by leaps and bounds in terms of quality, and now represents not only a great value, but oftentimes some of the best product in the store… it’s most often processed and flash-frozen within just a few hours of capture, and has no waste. In addition, it's super easy for the home-cook. Are you thinking of having salmon tonight for dinner? Great! Before you leave for work in the morning, pull out the number of filets of Alaskan sockeye salmon that you need from the freezer. Put them on a plate in the refrigerator, and by the time you get home in the evening, the fish will be thawed out, pristinely fresh, and ready to cook.”

Kate’s Tip: Do just what Barton suggested. Or pull out frozen barramundi from your freezer in the morning and grill up fresh fish tacos that night in no time! A corn tortilla, shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, cilantro, chili powder dusting and a squirt of lime-heaven. Check out another amazing barramundi recipe from his new book below (see end of post).

Myth #6: I can’t serve my baby seafood; I’ll do it when they’re older.

 

Truth: Seafood can be a food for the high chair.

Can fish be a food for the high chair? Absolutely. “It's really a matter of exposure and preference. Kids all over the world, in most cultures other than our own, eat lots of seafood from a very early age. In America, we train our children's palates toward a traditional American diet. So my suggestion for parents of young children would be train the palates of your little ones to prefer seafood. This is just what my parents did for me when I was growing up.”

“For parents of slightly older children who have already developed preferences and possibly picky habits, I’d say that education and learning always begins with exposure. A can of pink salmon, drained, mixed with a little mayo covered with thin slices of good cheddar cheese placed on whole grain bread and thrown under the broiler makes a delicious meal that most kids, I would imagine, would get pretty into. It's full of protein, fiber, calcium, omega 3s--and it tastes amazing. In fact, I'll probably make that for dinner tonight!”

Kate’s Tip: If your child has no history of asthma or allergies, try putting crab, fish, shrimp on your baby’s high chair to begin to expose her to the taste and textures of the ocean as early as 8 months (be sure it is fully cooked and deboned). With toddlers, serve fish for the family meal twice a week to reap immediate health benefits, and lay the foundation of a lifetime of healthy eating.

Myth #7: Sustainable Seafood will save our oceans.

 

Truth: We will never save the oceans by eating sustainable seafood alone.

Here’s where the green really overlaps with lean; a plant based diet, with smaller amounts of sustainable seafood, is the ideal for optimal health and weight.  “The most important thing consumers can do to create change is to eat more vegetables. On the whole, we Americans need to introduce a greater diversity of calories into our diets. And by eating a lot of vegetables and a small, but adequate, and enjoyable portion of seafood, we not only help to sustain the oceans, but we also create a more human-sustaining diet.”

Kate’s Tip: Serve smaller portions of seafood and savor it alongside generous portions of plant foods - fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains - for a lean and green diet that helps you save green as well.

 

 

 

Sustainable Seafood Recipes From Chef Barton Seaver to Love:

Clams and Mussels en EscabecheClams and Mussels en Escabeche

24 littleneck clams, rinsed thoroughly (discard any that won’t close) 1 cup white wine 1 pound mussels,  scrubbed and debearded (discard any that won’t close) 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds 1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and green parts kept separated) 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika 1 teaspoon coriander seeds Zest of 1 lemon, removed in strips with a peeler 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 loaf crusty bread such as baguette, sliced and gently toasted

To open the clams, place them in a small pot with the wine and bring to a boil. Cover and steam until all the shells have opened, about 5 minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. Remove the clams from the pot, leaving the cooking liquid, and extract the meat from the shells. Reserve half the shells.

Add the mussels to the pot and repeat the process, again reserving half the shells.

Strain the broth by allowing it to sit undisturbed for a few minutes so any grit falls to the bottom. Gently pour off the clear liquid from the top and save 1 cup of the broth for the marinade.

For the marinade, put the olive oil in a small pot with the carrot, scallion whites, and garlic. Simmer over medium heat until the carrot slices begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the paprika and coriander and cook for another minute. Add the lemon zest and simmer for another 3 minutes. Add the reserved cooking broth and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce by about half, then add the parsley and clam and mussel meat. Stir to mix well. Let cool to lukewarm, then refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour and up to overnight (they taste much better if you let them marinate overnight). Stir the mixture as it cools so that everything marinates evenly.

Serve the clams and mussels by placing a spoonful of the mixture in each shell, then set the clams in a serving dish and pour any remaining marinade over them. Let the mixture come to room temperature before serving to get the most flavor from the dish. Serve with toasted bread.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

 

Barramundi with Creamed Zucchini and Sorrel-Tarragon-Carrot Salad

Four 5-ounce portions barramundi fillet 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the fillets 1 tablespoon butter 2 cloves garlic, sliced 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, then into half-moons Salt 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream Leaves from 1 bunch sorrel, stacked, rolled, and sliced crosswise as thinly as possible into ribbons 2 carrots, peeled and shredded on a box grater 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced Preheat the broiler.

Place the fish fillets on a baking sheet and brush with just enough olive oil to give them a sheen. Broil them for 4 minutes. Shift the baking sheet to the bottom rack of the oven and turn the heat off. There should be enough heat in the oven to continue to cook the fish gently as you prepare the rest of the meal. If the oven does not feel hot (or your broiling unit is not part of your oven), then warm it to 225 degrees.

For the zucchini, in a large pan, melt the butter over high heat, then sauté the garlic until it begins to brown. Add the zucchini and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute, then season to taste with salt and stir in the crème fraîche. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the zucchini to simmer in the sauce. When the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze, about 5 minutes, remove from the heat.

For the salad, in a medium bowl, mix the sorrel, carrots, and onion. Toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt.

To serve, divide the zucchini into 4 bowls and place a fillet on top of each. Garnish with the salad and serve immediately.

 

Other Links to Love For More Information:

Blue Ocean Seafood Guide

Barton's National Geographic Page

Ocean Friendly Seafood Substitutes

Buy For Cod and Country on Amazon

Buy fresh sustainable seafood online

Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman's Association

 

My Top 4 Lessons from the 2010 Sustainable Seafood Institute

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sustainable seafoodI just wrapped 2 full days talking about the state of our oceans, and its connection with the state of our plate, thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Institute. As a nutritionist, a journalist, and most of all a MOM, it continues to be some of the most powerful days of my entire year. Here were my top 4 key takeaways we can learn from:

  1. 1.  There's a lot of lying in the seafood business. Uttered most often by Ingrid Bengis, the spunky Maine  fishmonger who famously used to arrive in NYC  toting crates of lobster by bus and taxi to some of NY's top chefs, there was universal agreement among participants on this one. With 80% of seafood in the US being imported, panel after panel stressed that traceability is linked to sustainability. Of any food on your plate, seafood is most in murky waters.

What to do: Ask Questions. A lot of questions-is their supply chain transparent? Seek 3rd party certification (like MSC Certified) as the gold standard. Use your Seafood Watch Guides. Get as close to the source of your food as possible -the beauty of Ingrid was that she was utterly committed to being the sole link between her fisherman, all of whom she knows by name and knows their families-and the chefs. If that means you eat seafood a bit less often, so be it.

2. As customers, we really do drive business. While it's easy to feel jaded by "the system" in light of all the turmoil in politics, Earthbound Farms founder Myra Goodman stressed that the consumer revolution in food choices has absolutely been the driving factor in their success (did you know organics now make up 10% of the produce market? A big gain). CE-YO of Stonyfield Yogurt, Gary Hirschberg, agreed, noting that their success is based on uber loyal customers, not because of a big marketing budget (Stonyfield spends about 0.5% compared to 9-12% for competitors).

What to do: Your dollars are about more than what's for dinner, it's about the kind of world you want to live in and the kind of world you want to leave to your kids. While it may not feel like it, you really really are making a difference by buying companies whose products support the kind of world you want to inhabit, and the level of health you want to achieve. Buy organic, buy local, support companies whose mission you believe in. It's an immediate, powerful tool to change the marketplace.

3. Organics really are superior. While there is still no organic fish certification, the science supporting health advantages of choosing an organic diet had two big wins this month. In early May, the President's Cancer Panel issued a report where the top tips to cut your risk of cancer included Eat Organic, Drink Filtered Water, and Avoid Plastic Food Contatiners that contain BPA (note that some of these guys were Bush appointees). Then, last week a reportcame out in which scientists found that exposure to pesticides on fruits and veggies may double the risk of a child's getting ADHD.

To wit, there was strong anecdotal evidence at the conference as well. Hirschberg, said that they have found organic cows live 2-3X as long as conventional cows on their farms (as a mom that's a strong case for animal welfare that's hard to ignore). And Goodman noted that they are actually witnessing a significant increase in productivity of their land each year, land that has now been farmed organically 20+ years, which means that every year the "cost savings" of conventional inputs become less and less relative to conventional.

What to do: Absolutely buy only organic dairy, meat, pork, poultry and produce. Be sure to get the Environmental Working Group'slist of the Dirty Dozen listing the most contaminated produce-and their Clean 15, showing you conventional produce with the lowest residues. Even a tight food budget can make room for these things if you reallocate dollars away from things like bottled beverages, junk food, and pricey meat cuts and eat lower on the food chain more often.

4. To have a chance of saving the oceans for our kids, Americans need to embrace the Supergreens. Do you have this list? It's the deepest shade of green you can go to eat for health- Sustainability begins with us, the choices we (and hence the restaurants and markets) make. If you go to any reef or fishery in the oceans anywhere across the globe, it's very easy to see the true impact of our lifestyle on the oceans. One place it's very difficult to see the current crisis, however, is your local lavishly appointed fish market.

What to do: Try serving Caesar salad crostini topped with marinated sardines, a mackerel melt (instead of tuna), or canned wild Alaskan salmon cakes-I'm off to try recipes and will be back shortly with my results! Chef up these tasty recipes showcasing sustainable eatsfrom award winning chefs.

Paul Hawken, eloquent visionary and author of Taste for the Future reminded all of us media that we need to reawaken to the sensuous pleasure that comes from eating delicious, whole foods. Let's embrace the natural variability in nature, and teach your kids to do the same-this will have a powerful ripple effect across the supply chain that brings that magnificent tuna halfway across the world to your dinner table. When food seduces you with taste and flavor, it awakens what it is to be human and alive.

Thank you to Earthbound Farms for the amazing organic lunch we enjoyed at their test farm!