This post is a very special post for me. I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute with a recipe for the Ocean Hero Campaign on Loaf App, an initiative lead by MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). This is an amazing campaign raising awareness of the importance of eating sustainable fish and I am very proud and honoured to be able to support this message and hopefully inspire you guys with this Asian style cod with a zesty celeriac quinoa salad. Amazing flavours, good for you and good for the planet.
Why is sustainable fish important and how does MSC help?
Over 70% of our planet is covered by water, mainly in form of seas and oceans. Oceans determine not only the climate for the land we live in (transferring heat from the tropics to the polar regions and creating rainfalls through evaporation) but it also has provided us with work and food (supporting the largest biosphere from plankton, to the blue whale-the largest organism on earth, to other species that have not even been discovered yet). Oceans are increasingly put under pressure by a growing population with growing needs for economic and technological developments. Over fishing was one of the major issues which lead to a dramatic decrease in fish stocks in our oceans. It is estimated that 85% of the world’s seafood are at full capacity or over fished. Therefore it is crucial that we choose fish that has been sustainably caught to ensure we are supporting a healthy ocean able to adapt better to climate changes.
MSC is one of the most reputable non-profit organisations that helps fight this issue through the development of a science based standard for sustainable fishing. Hence, fisheries that wish to demonstrate their sustainable practices are reviewed by a team of experts independent to both the fishery and MSC.
The MSC will cover wild fisheries and does not include aquaculture production.
How do you know if you are buying a sustainable fish?
Seafood products that display the blue MSC ecolabel guarantee that the seafood can be traced back though the supply chain to fisheries that have been certified against the MSC standard. These can be found in most supermarkets in the UK, as well as you will see MSC labelled fish at the fishmonger counter in most supermarkets. For more info on what MSC are doing and where to buy sustainable fish do head to www.msc.org.
How about my local fishmonger?
At the moment in the UK there are a lack of MSC certified fishmongers. The reason behind this is that they need to apply for the certification and the incentive for them is low as people tend to trust their practices. However, this does not really guarantee that what you buys is all sustainable, even if done with small boats (which should in theory guarantee a small stock of fish rather than large quantities). For example, Wild Seabass is one of the fish species that in in danger of over capacity at the moment although it is caught with a rod and line, a method used my small fishing boats. The more we raise awareness around sustainable fish and demand it the more fishmongers will have the incentive to apply for the certification.
If you do want a wider selection of fresh fish than what supermarkets offer (like I do most of the times) then you will have to trust the monger and feel confident that your own assessment and the standards of the fishmonger meet your own in terms of sustainable purchasing. You can easily get the sense of a fishmongers passion for this. It’s their lives so if they don’t care you can really tell.
How do I know if restaurants offer sustainable fish?
One the MSC page there is a list comprising all restaurants that have an MSC certification. I was very surprised to see that some of the well known restaurants or names in the business were not on the list. The MSC explained that restaurants and chefs will have to go through a certification audit and also need a good supply of MSC fish from a certified supplier. There are limited fisheries and suppliers that service the foodservice industry which means that MSC certification (which results in MSC labels on their menu and appearing on our map) is not always a logical choice for these chefs and restaurants. The MSC are doing a lot of work on the ground to to ensure access to the accredited fisheries is enhanced. They also work with a lot of chefs who are very passionate about the message of sustainable fish sources; some of these chefs are looking more seriously into getting fully certified in due course when it comes to new fisheries.
Hope the above gave you some really good insight and will enable you to make the right choice when it comes to how to get sustainable fish. Would be great to hear your comments and what you think about this. There’s the background…now let’s look at the recipe:).
Asian style cod with zesty celeriac quinoa, courgette and cucumber salad
Ingredients (serves 2)
For the cod
2 MSC certified cod fillets
1 lime (juice and zest)
½ red chilli
2 cm ginger (roughly size of a walnut)
Mint and coriander leaves
For zesty celeriac quinoa
1/4 celeriac (shredded)
1 garlic clove
½ a cup of red and white quinoa (looks prettier but otherwise white quinoa is fine)
For the courgette and cucumber salad (optional)
1 small courgette
1 lemon (juice and zest)
Place the cod fillets in the middle of a baking parchment and season well with salt and pepper. Add slices of chilli, the bruised lemongrass (just bash it with a rolling pin to release the flavours), grated ginger, chopped mint and coriander leaves and zest and juice from the lime. Fold the baking paper over the fish and twist the ends to seal to form what is called in French cooking “papillote”. Cooking fish in this way is much healthier as the fish steams in its own juices as well as ensures the fish does not get dry. Leave to marinate for about 10 min while you start cooking the quinoa.
Pour boiling water over the quinoa and leave it to simmer for 15 min. 5 min before the quinoa is done put the cod in papillote in a pre-heated oven at 200°C and bake for 10 min. While the fish is in the oven shred the celeriac in a food processor (if you don’t have one just grate it) and toss it for 4 min in a pan with a bit of coconut oil, grated garlic and salt.
Take a peeler and start peeling ribbons of courgette and cucumber. When you get to the middle stop as these are mainly seeds. Nothing goes to waste so you can use the cores for a smoothie (it’s still very nutritional). Pour olive oil, salt, zest and juice of the lemon and toss.
When the fish has cooked, remove from the papillote and pour the juices over the celeriac and quinoa and mix together. Add a few chopped coriander leaves. Divide the mixture into 2 and place the fish on top. Decorate with a mint leave and now you can enjoy.
Enjoy!! If you feel this Easter you want a break from traditional lamb why not give sustainable fish a go? You would be supporting a great cause and nutritionally is amazing for your body:).