There is a lot going on lately around fish and for a very good reason too. The amount of commercial fishing has huge consequences for the ecosystem and fishing with large nets usually means a lot of fish is caught that is not of any commercial value. Young tiny fish or species that are not edible at all and the list goes on. These often just get discarded. And I am not even talking about the damage that the nets cause to the coral reef.
Enough reason in any case to try and eat as much sustainable fish as you can.
But what are the things you need to look at when buying fish? And how do you know if a fish was caught in a sustainable way?
For starters you would probably like a fresh fish. And since I always pay special attention to that fact I have come to the shocking conclusion that a lot of the fish in the store is really not fresh anymore. It is quite easy to recognize a fresh fish, once you know what to look for and that is easiest in a whole fish. So with skin and head still on. So what to look out for?
- The easiest is to look at the eyes of the fish. These need to be clear. If the eyes are cloudy it is definitely not a fresh fish anymore.
- Secondly the layer of slime on top of the skin; a fresh fish has slime on it (and while that doesn’t sound attractive, it is what you want!)
- The gills need to be fresh and bright red. If they are damaged and brown you can be sure that the fish is not fresh .
- If you choose to buy fish filets, choose if they are smooth and if the filets look strong. If you buy filets it is advisable to buy them with the skin still on. It will keep the fish compact and it will be easier when baking the fish as the skin will keep the delicate flesh.
When is a fish sustainable?
Most important thing is that the fisheries take the effects of fishing on the ecosystem into account. Without enough fish to guarantee the survival of a species it will be over quickly for the fish. Sustainable fishermen will always try to avoid damage to the oceanfloor and will also try to limit the amount of bycatch. Fishing with lines is – in general – a very sustainable way of fishing; you have little to no bycatch and no seafloor damage.
Ask your fishmonger how and where the fish is caught. Theoretically you can assume that the fishmonger sells sustainable fish, but in reality that might not be the case. Also pay attention to the RFM-quality label and also check the guides for sustainable fish that will be available in most countries. Here in the Netherlands we have the Viswijzer; which is a very handy tool to quickly check if you’re fish is ok. They also have an app to go along with it. e
All fish coming from Alaska needs to fullfill the strict set of rules set by the Alaskan Internationally acknowledged Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) quality seal. This is a quality seal that is developed in Alaska and is something that all fishermen, fish handlers and fish transporters need to live by.
Wild and/or sustainable fish by Alaska Seafood can be found in the freezer area of your supermarket. The fish often gets frozen right at sea to guarantee the quality. And that also means that fish you can get from the freezer is just as healthy – and sometimes definitely a lot fresher – than the fish you can find at your fishmonger or market. Nothing bad with regards to fishmongers ofcourse, but my experience is that our local fishmonger has ‘old’ fish in the store too often. You prevent that part by quickly freezing the fish because quality wil start to deteriorate as soon as the fish leaves the water.
And ofcourse I cannot leave you with this story and not give a delicious recipe with wild Alaskan cod.. I came to the conclusion that I never made fish and chips myself. Baked in a beerbatter which gives it a lovely crispy outside layer. Delicious with a homemade tartar sauce.
Alaskan fish and chips
- 900 gr new potatoes, cut into wedges (I left the skin on) always precook them briefly for about 5 minutes, drain and leave to dry a bit
- 125 gr all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp ground garlic
- 1/2 to 1 tsp chili powder and some extra for the potatoes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 150 ml Mexican beer
- A few good pieces of wild Alaskan cod filets
- 4 tbsp mayonaise
- 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- few gherkins, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp of capers, chopped
- handful of chives, chopped
- splash of chipotle tabasco
- Preheat the oven at 200 C. Put the potato wedges on a baking tray and spread them out. Sprinkle the oliveoil over the top and mix them well so each potato wedge has some oil on it. Sprinkle with pepper, salt and a bit of chili powder.
- Bake the potatos in the oven for about 40 minutes or until golden and crispy. Turn halfway through
- Make your batter in the meantime by mixing the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Add to this the spices (chili, paprika, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt) and the egg and the beer. Whisk to a smooth batter
- Heat oil in a large frying pan.
- Spread a little bit of flour on the cod filets and drag them through the batter. .
- Bake for 5-6 minutes on each side until golden and crispy
- Make your tartarsauce by mixing the mayonaise with the yogurt, gherkins, capers and the herbs. Add chipotle tabasco to taste.
Disclaimer: This post was made possible by Alaska Seafood Org, but all opinions expressed are as usual my own
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This post is also available in: Dutch