Sustainable Fish


It’s been way too long since I wrote here.

Life has changed significantly and focus has shifted on food, wine,  the restaurant industry and my children more than ever before, it’s an exciting time, although now I am toying with the idea of a new blog so will certainly keep you posted on any changes or updates in the coming months.

My friend, John Ford, asked me to give a talk with him at the Sustainable Living Festival in February  this year. It was a great time and an honour to have Chris Smyth from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Oliver Edwards from GoodFishBadFish and Angeline Charles of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) join us for a panel discussion. Differing opinions are inspiring and important in the quest to find foundation to our own beliefs; robust discussion is healthy.

One of the many things people took from the talk was the fish cooking chart we handed out, it’s a simple list of different sustainable Australian fish species and the best methods by which to cook them.  I’ve had a few requests for it, so here it is again:

fish cooking chart

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I was very recently contacted by a friend/colleague who told me about this article ‘Mussel Myth an open and shut case’ by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and she then brought up the small piece I wrote for Epicure in The Age last year about mussels. If a mussel is shut it doesn’t mean you should toss it out because it’s off. A mussel is very clear about letting you know if it’s off (it will smell awful).

Peter Lillie from Bay Sea Farms has taken the article I wrote and is putting it up at his stall where he sells at the Mt Eliza Farmers Market and the Pier at Mt Martha as he has been giving product away to make up for people’s ‘bad ones’.

Mussels are a sustainable, delicious and easy-to-cook choice (very reasonably priced too), so consider the mussel whether they’re open…or shut.

Here is the passage about Mussels from the Season’s Bounty column in Epicure The Age from last year.

Mussels

From a sustainability perspective mussels are a great choice; the methods used to farm them have little environmental impact, they are filter feeders so take their nutrients from the water in which they’re grown and they are very affordable. The major fallacy about mussels is that if they don’t open they are dead or bad and have to be tossed out. This isn’t true. If a mussel is bad it’s going to smell, really bad. When cooking, mussels thrive in a big pot with liquid that will highlight the meat rather than overwhelm it. Classic combinations of garlic, white onion and white wine finished with fresh parsley are simply a matter of placing the onion and garlic in the bottom of the pan with some olive oil, putting in the mussels, then a cup of the wine, covering with a lid and leaving for three minutes. Other flavours and liquids to cook mussels in include lager, orange juice and coriander; lime juice, chilli and vietnamese mint or coconut milk, thai basil, chicken stock and chilli.

Hilary McNevin

The sardine, I’ve said it before (and will do so again here) it’s a deliciously unctuous, omega-3 laiden, slightly salty, fleshy fish that’s insanely sustainable. The sardine is far from being over-fished and is very very inexpensive. It grills quickly and is lovely with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and can carry bigger flavours too, like garlic and chilli. Choosing sardines at the fish counter is a very sustainable, affordable, tasty choice.

Wine writer and sustainability advocate Max Allen has found what to drink with this small fish – a wine called Vermentino –  this is a grape variety from Sardinia that’s grown around the Mediterranean, its a sturdy grape that copes well in harsh climates and produces a crisp, dry wine that has some length and its own character along with a refreshing finish. It’s perfect for the Australian climate and there’s some beautiful Vermentino being made in Australia now. Max wrote a brilliant piece about the grape variety and its easy marriage with grilled sardines. He mused about the idea of allowing people to try this combination of oily, distinctive fish with some examples of Australian-made Vermentino. It could be considered a sustainable culinary solution (bloody clever I say!).

Australian winemakers who are making Vermentino liked what they read and Sardines & Vermentino The Musical ‘played’ its last gig today in Sydney after appearing in Adelaide Friday 21st January and Melbourne 24th January.

Tressle tables were piled high with different examples of the wine, tasting glasses and fleshy sardines deliciously grilled served next to them and it was all for free. Getting people to try Vermentino is what S&V The Musical was about and this sustainable feast of fish and white wine literally took the product to the streets.

Quite simply, you’d be mad not to try Vermentino – it’s readily available in bottle shops – it’s affordable and in the cooler months ahead I’m going to make a dish of linguine tossed with grilled sardines, lots of garlic, lemon zest, chilli, oregano, parsley perhaps a touch of a well-reduced tomato sugo and I’m going to try an Australian Vermentino with it – anyone care to join me?

Here are the winemakers who took their haul to three cities in 5 days to allow people a taste of their Vermentino.

919 Wines, Boyntons, Brown Brothers, Chalmers, De Bortoli, Ducks in a Row, Foxey’s Hangout, Mitolo, Trentham Estate and Yalumba

Get tasting!

When I wrote Guide to Fish, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) very kindly gave me permission to use their research on the fish species I chose to put in the book.

The AMCS have just released an new version of their sustainable seafood guide. A smart, litte book to take to the market that lists fish alpabetically and talks about the fish to avoid, the ones to eat occasionally and the better choices.

They’ve also, thoughtfully, put the guide up on line.

Click here to view the guide online

Click here to have a look around the AMCS online shop

We’re keeping the conversation going about sustainable food choices and sustainable seafood choices.

It all comes down to the consumer – yep – we got the power!

In this video I talk with James Andronis from Clamms about sustainable fish from the wholesalers perspective and then we go and visit Mr Paul Wilson, Director of Food at the Albert Park Hotel here in Melbourne and he cooks up some lovely dishes for us.

Click here to take a look

After the talk I gave in Sale last weekend, many people expressed interest in Greenpeace’s sustainable tinned tuna guide – some of us have given this fish up completely and others want to eat it, but consume it thoughtfully. So I thought I’d simply re-post:

Click here to find out the top sustainable tinned tunas available on supermarket shelves at the moment.

In Gippsland, Victoria this weekend, come along and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inception of the Sale Botanic Gardens and take High Tea with fine bone china, cucumber sandwiches and passionate discussion about sustainability, seafood, cooking and eating!

It will be a lovely afternoon.

Slow Food East Gippsland’s High Tea in our Beautiful Botanic Gardens
Slow Food East Gippsland is holding a High Tea in Sale’s historic Botanic
Gardens to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
inception of the Gardens. Supported by the Wellington Shire Council and the
‘Friends of The Botanic Gardens’ members and friends are invited to come
and share an old-fashioned tea party served on pretty tablecloths, on
grandma’s fine china a delicious spread of tiny sweet cakes, sponges and
cucumber sandwiches. A large marquee will protect guests from inclement
weather and seating will be provided.

Food writer, Hilary McNevin will be addressing the group about the importance of making sustainable food choices in fish and seafood. Hilary is the author of “Guide To Fish” in which fish species selection is advised and relevant recipes are given. Copies of Hilary’s book will be available for sale. Last year’s High Tea
was a great success with Rosa Mitchell (author of “My Cousin Rosa“)
delighting those gathered talking about her Sicilian heritage, how it shaped
her own life choices. and establishing ‘Journal Canteen’ in Flinders Lane in Melbourne.

The High Tea is to be held on Sunday, October the 17th at 2 p.m. The cost is $12.00 to members and $15.00 to friends. Reservations are essential and can be made by

ringing Liz on 0409 447 472.

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