World Oceans Day, June 8, was a reminder to reflect on our relationship to wild fish and the dwindling numbers of many species. Can we stop plundering the oceans and still feed a world population rapidly approaching 9 billion?
In a new book, “The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World,” Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless and co-author Suzannah Evans tackle that big question, outlining the issues and presenting solutions. Sharpless will be in Seattle on Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m. at the Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill for a reading followed by a Q & A session.
The book also addresses the consumer’s dilemma: How can we find and choose responsibly caught seafood? It includes recipes from top chefs, among them Eric Ripert, of New York’s famed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin, and Hajime Sato, the owner of Mashiko, Seattle’s first sustainable sushi bar. Sato will also attend the Elliott Bay Book Company event.
In an interview on KIRO Radio’s “Let’s Eat” that aired June 8, Sato talked about his decision to carry only sustainable seafood at his West Seattle restaurant.
“I’d been teaching on different occasions and in class they began asking where fish come from. I had to study about it. I found out some were not sustainable. When I started to look into it, I began to feel like a hypocrite.”
Casson Trenor, author of “Sustainable Sushi,” helped inspire Mashiko’s conversion in 2009. The first few months were rocky, as customers adjusted to the fact that some of their favorites, like bluefin tuna and yellowtail (hamachi), were no longer available. Nor will you find farm-raised salmon, shrimp from Southeast Asia or eel at Mashiko.
“Eel (unagi) is not even endangered, it’s nearly extinct,” Sato says. “I love eel, that’s why I stopped eating it years ago.”
What seafood should we be eating? Think small and seasonal.
“One of the things I always tell people is to eat something that’s lower in the food chain: sardines, mackerel, anchovies. Those small fish come back in great numbers. Shellfish are good and seasonal fish are also good to eat. If you eat seasonal and lower in the food chain you are eating pretty sustainably.”
People always think in terms of what you can’t eat, but Sato points out, “If you come to my restaurant now we have more fish than we used to.” What’s in season now? “Oregon bay shrimp, herring from Puget Sound. Tuna and halibut from Alaska are also excellent right now. Albacore tuna is coming up and in a couple months the local sardines that not many know about.”
The recipe he contributed to “The Perfect Protein” is for mackerel “another small fish not many people know. Late summer is local mackerel season but they are readily available frozen year round.”
Listen to a podcast of the full interview with Hajime Sato on KIRO FM’s “Let’s Eat” here: http://kiroradio.com/listen/9957229/