Sunday, December 12, 2010

My new relationship with...FISH!

Life has been absolutely INSANE since September started! I introduced some new teaching material that has been a great learning experience for me but has kept me off of blogging among other things. This is a post I have been working on for a while that I finally had the chance to finish!

This is the latest chapter in my adventure into liking all food. I am on a journey to be a less picky eater and enjoy all food that is presented to me. I think that with some amazing recipes and the slow but consistent approach to eating something you dislike, you will start to actually enjoy those recipes and even want to eat those dreaded items.

Foods on my dislikes list include onions, mushrooms, fish, seafood and lamb. So far I have been incredibly successful with onions and mushrooms. Onions were fairly easy because I could tolerate them cooked but what really sold me on onions were the small grilled onions (cebollitas) in Mexico...oh so sweet and delicious in a taco!
Mushrooms took a little longer. It took a year of eating mushroom risotto with the mushroom chunks getting bigger with every time we made it to finally be ok with eating them in other dishes. I am now even eating them raw in spinach salad!!!!
Image from: manjamakan.tumblr.com

I have tried scallops...twice...once in 2008 (see the delicious Mexican recipe posted here) and again this past Spring when my parents visited for Easter. I guess I have been slacking on my slow and consistent method here...
In comes the fish. Fish has been on my I really DON'T like at all list for a long time...well except when beer battered, deep fried and covered in tartar sauce...but then is it still really fish at this point? Knowing this, imagine Diego's surprise when I came to him and suggested we buy a half share in the new Community Supported Fishery (CSF - for more info on it see EcoYogini's great post and interview here) called Off the Hook. The idea of paying in to the fishery at the start of the season to share in the bounty and in the hard times with the fisherman was very appealing. Not to mention getting to know the fisherman and supporting a sustainable hook and line fishery rather than the destructive dragging of the ocean floor. Bottom trawling, which is how bottom dwelling fish like haddock, cod, hake, etc. are caught and is THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE way to fish.
Image from: http://shrimpsuck.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html
Image from: http://www.leicesterfoe.org.uk/marine.html
The giant net drags across the bottom catching everything in its path (including deep sea corals, sponges, crabs, and the list goes on) and wreaking havoc on the bottom. Destroying the habitat that these fisheries actually depend on (talk about shoot yourself in the foot)...
...and throwing away anything not in the quota. This deep sea coral grows in the dark cold waters of the Atlantic and took HUNDREDS of years to grow that size and it is just being tossed over the side of a deep sea dragger.
Image from:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/sci_nat_bottom_trawled0_bottom_cleared/html/5.stm
The critters below are also bycatch and are what most of the fish we are catching eat, so we are at the same time decimating the food source of any remaining fish...any wonder why our fisheries are collapsing...we are taking out too much, destroying their habitat and food supply with destructive fishing methods and near the coasts we are also assaulting their nurseries with our pollution and coastal development...Knowing all of this, I bit the bullet and decided that we would try one season and if I hated it...at least I gave it a fair go and helped the program get off the ground. We had 5.5 lbs of fresh whole but gutted fish almost every week for 18 weeks this Summer and Fall! This translates into fish for at least 3 meals a week!!
Haddock about to be filleted.
I got to fillet my first ever fish and did a decent job of it! Although this ended up being Diego's job most of the time.
We always cooked all of the fish right away since freezing them or leaving them whole for a couple of days added to the fishy flavour that I don't enjoy. The fish were always less than 15 hours out of the water before they hit our pan. The taste was amazing! No fishy flavour whatsoever and once cooked they kept their fresh taste for the three meals!
To ease me into eating fish we started with an old favorite....Fish Tacos! These are essentially battered and fried little pieces of fish that you can put into a fresh corn tortilla with some Mexican Tartar sauce and Guacamole. Delicious! We used a typical beer batter (with Corona of course) and the Mexican Tartar sauce is just mayo, pickles and grated carrots! I will post my AMAZING guacamole recipe soon. :) It is a party pleaser.
After a couple of weeks of fish tacos we ventured to try another Mexican Favorite that I and all of the guests we made it for enjoyed very much and it is very simple...however, I don't remember what it is called! It is fresh haddock fillets layered (in this order) with juliened onions, diced tomatoes, secret sauce (see below) and topped with some dabs of butter. You wrap this all up in a large amount of tin foil and bake it in the oven or BBQ. You want enough foil to be able to flip it often to cook evenly and not have any juices come out. We ate this several times because it is SO GOOD!

Secret Sauce:
75% mayo, 25% mustard

I would make enough to have 2-3 tablespoons of sauce per layer of fish.

Once it is cooked (this will depend on how much fish you have) just slice open the top of the foil layer stick some spoons in and place it in the middle of the table. Spoon contents into a corn (or flour) tortilla, add some guacamole and ENJOY!
Closer to the end, I started to feel a little more adventurous and we made an amazing baked lemon rosemary haddock with a dill cream sauce. I used fresh rosemary from my garden and dill from the farmer's market. I lay the fillets on a bed of lemons then topped them with a few lemons and sprigs of rosemary and baked them in the oven at 350F until the fish was cooked (30-40 mins). In the mean time I made a creamy dill sauce using this recipe. We ate it with a side of Greek style baked sweet and red potatoes with onions (essentially olive oil with a very small amount of dill, and salt and pepper to taste, baked in my cast iron dutch oven in the oven beside the fish). The combination was AMAZING! Neither the dill or the rosemary were too strong. They were subtle and the combination was perfect. I scarfed this plate down pretty fast!
One of the last recipes we tried was the Moist Baked Haddock recipe found here. I did substitute the Pepperidge farm stuffing with Italian style bread crumbs.
We did enjoy this recipe but we really liked the bread crumbs so we would often just bread and bake the fish (no mayo, etc) to eat in tacos (of course with some salsa or guacamole!) or just straight up with some veggies on the side.

We both loved joining the CSF and will join again in the Spring. It is an amazing opportunity to support a truly sustainable fishery and get all the benefits of eating fish while feeling good rather than guilty about it! We also, really got to know the organizers and the fisherman. We met their families and know our money is going to support them directly and not some faceless corporation. If you are in Halifax, the Valley or Digby and you eat fish, you should definitely check them out!

To learn more about fisheries you can watch the documentary The End of the Line or take a look at Seachoice.org.

Don't have a CSF near you...here are some things that you can do:
  1. There are some fisheries that are being sustainably managed, buy these fish. To know which ones check out the Canadian Seafood Guide and the Canadian Sushi Guide at Seachoice.org.
  2. When in a restaurant, ask questions about where the fish comes from and how it was caught! The restaurant owners will become more informed and buy what the customer wants but they won't know unless you ask!
  3. Not all fisheries are equally destructive so you will need to arm yourself with information to be able to make the right choices and ask the right questions.
Happy Fishing!

3 comments:

  1. YUM! so glad you enjoyed your CSF experience. :)

    Also agree with you, i'm not really a fish person, but i do so love fresh haddock. there is nothing like it! :)

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  2. Your post made me so hungry! Good for you for making yourself be a more adventurous eater. I read a book one time about the depletion of our oceans; it's very disturbing. I'm envious that you guys can get a CSF where you are.

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  3. I ''LOVE'' fish and your recipes are making me hungry. I don't eat meat but I eat seafood. I should check that CSF next year. They're in Digby.

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