Good Food Blog
What's the catch?Posted at 2:15PM, 20 October 2008 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
Like me, you can't have failed to notice that we're all being advised to buy sustainable fish. Sustainable seafood means fish stocks that aren't being over exploited and that are caught using fishing methods that don't damage their marine habitat or harm other sea creatures. These include Cornish mackerel, Cornish sardines, organic cod, crustaceans that have been hand-gathered rather than dredged, (e.g. mussels, scallops and oysters) and successfully farmed fish such as salmon and trout.
In the last fifty years the world's annual fish catch has risen from 18 million tonnes to an incredible 95 million tonnes - the simple truth is that we are over fishing and thus taking too many fish from our oceans. The seas are being emptied of fish, with 70% of the world's fish stocks now heavily fished and many of our long-term British favourites such as cod, haddock and plaice threatened with extinction.
Top chefs are supporting the Seafood See Life campaign launched by Greenpeace, which urges chefs to use only sustainable seafood on their menus. Several famous chefs have pledged to support marine reserves and to serve only seafood that they know to be sustainable.
Unless we pay attention to the fish we buy and change what we eat, there won't be any fish left
It's clear that unless we pay attention to the fish we buy and change what we eat, there won't be any fish left. It's essential that we all 'do our bit' by ensuring we buy only sustainable seafood from fishmongers and supermarkets.
With this in mind, I've been trying some less well known fish, whose names are perhaps not as familiar (but which are tasty and just as nutritious) as cod, haddock and plaice. I use pollack (the flavour is milder than that of cod) to make fishcakes and also coat the fillets in a light beer batter and fry until crisp and golden. Coley (known as saithe in Scotland) is related to cod and has a lovely light texture. Cook it in the same way as you would cook cod or haddock - I like to make crispy goujons and serve them with a bowl of tartare sauce .
Gurnard has a faint shellfish flavour and firm texture; don't be put off by its unattractive appearance - lots of famous chefs feature it on their menus and it's particularly good in fish soups, or baked or grilled whole with fragrant spices. Whiting was once popular in the UK, but fell out of favour for some reason. It has a really good flavour and soft texture and is delicious poached and served with parsley sauce.
Any fishmonger will be pleased to advise you how to cook unusual fish, so why not be adventurous and experiment with different fish?