Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fishing lessons

I know I should cook more fish.

I hear often how good it is for you (Omega-3, lean protein, etc. etc.), but I have a little bit of a mental block about it. Even though my 40th birthday is lurking on a not-so distant horizon, I am still working on overcoming a deep-seated childhood loathing for fish. (If you add in the knowledge that I only had to eat it twice a year—Christmas Eve and Ash Wednesday—you might get an idea of how deep-seated.) Add to that a husband who’s not exactly a fish maniac himself (“I just don’t see the point”) and a four-year-old typically suspicious of novelty in food (“What’s that?!”) and you see my dilemma.

And that’s before we’ve even left the house. As far as I can tell, the general public seems to be getting completely contrary advice about fish from nutrition and environmental experts. On the one hand, government health agencies generally recommend eating one to two fish meals a week. (If we all start doing that, that’s a lot of fish.)

Meanwhile, environmentalists warn us that three-quarters of the world’s oceans have been fished to the point of collapse and that we have to be scrupulously careful about how much and what type of fish we buy.

What’s a concerned cook to do?

In my case, usually go two stalls down and buy some organic free-range chicken instead....But that’s wimpy, and I’m not prepared to throw in the towel just yet.

A few weeks ago I came across The Leather District Gourmet’s Teach a Man to Fish 2008 event. This event encourages people to seek out and prepare sustainable sources of seafood, then send in recipes and pictures to create a resource of ideas. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about sustainable seafood in Australia, and I signed on to send in a suitable recipe by the end of October.

Then, in my usual fashion, I did no further research until the day before I actually had to go and buy some fish to cook, at which point I discovered that the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide was not, in fact, available on the internet as I had anticipated, but had to be ordered through the mail.


A Google scramble ensued (after I ordered the Guide), and I managed to find an article online about the Society which included two or three suggestions for sustainable seafood choices. I chose bream, mainly because they had it at the fishmonger’s, then got it home and realized I had been so focused on what fish to get, I hadn't really thought about how to prepare it. So I slathered it with some homemade pesto I had in the fridge, chopped up some lemons and added them, and broiled/grilled it for all of five minutes.

Then I remembered the real advantage of fish: it’s quick and easy to cook, and responds well to a variety of flavors. And yes, even this household of fish skeptics liked it.

Opportunistic Grilled Bream

1 teaspoon olive oil
250g/8oz bream fillets (because you don’t expect anyone, even you, to have seconds)
2-3 tablespoons pesto
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Oil a baking sheet with the olive oil and lay the fish on it. Halve the lemon, and squeeze one half into the pesto. Slather each fillet with lemony pesto, then chop up the other half lemon into chunks and scatter over the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Slide under the grill for about five minutes (my fillets were about ½ inch thick). Serve immediately, with some starch you have made on purpose to sweeten the deal for your fellow diners (I made sautéed potatoes), and a green vegetable.

Serves 2 adults and 1 child.


JacquelineC said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for a great story and what looks like a simple but delicious recipe. Learning through each of our stories and challenges is what makes this event so great (says the woman typing at 4 something AM). I really appreciate your openness and your participation!

The Leather District Gourmet

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