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October 14, 2016

SOUNDS FISHY

I have never been so awed meeting Executive chefs of major hotels in one room—all for one cause: supporting sustainable seafood. Yes, that, too, has to be protected and brought to the attention of one and all. We need to know where our fish comes from.

Did you know that some fish are carnivorous? Yes, it’s scary but a friend of mine told me about burger joints giving away their food waste to people who then sell them to fish farm owners. I really wish it is not true but this just beats the other news that old and “cannot be sold” donuts go to fish farms, too. That makes them “fast food” eaters or fast fish. Imagine all the processed food even fish have to eat now!

But, there is another group of “do-gooders” who wish to support slow fish and sustainable seafood. This group has chefs and culinary people among its members. “They cannot sell fish this small,” says one purveyor of oysters and lobsters, showing a size about 4 inches wide with his thumb and forefinger. It happens when fisherfolk use nets, taking even baby fish along with the catch (thus, the term “by-catch”).

We need to educate the public, the cooks and even homemakers not to eat small fish. This way, the fisherfolk will not use nets and will do line fishing, which should be the case if we want enough fish in our waters.

chit-juan-sounds-fishy-sustainable-seafood-cocktail-2016oct14

At the meeting called by Christian Schmidradner last week, he discusses the activities for SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD WEEK on February 20-26, 2017. The event will be observed by most major hotels like Shangri-la Fort, Makati, EDSA and Boracay; Grand Hyatt, and a few more hotels. At the meeting, we were served sustainable tuna in many ways: sushi roll, spicy tuna sisig, confit of tuna, tuna wrapped in a tortilla, and tuna on a roll. Chef Joris Rycken of Shangri-la Fort and Chef Scott stayed on to listen while we partook of the lovely spread of tuna, supplied by Christian’s Meliomar.

What we need now is to get airlines, hospitals, and other institutions to also be a co-producer. Stop buying “fast fish” and start buying sustainable seafood. Oysters, mussels, and lobsters are imported for now because these are traceable to source and carry a certificate that they are sustainably-sourced. This is why I love Mussels Mariniere at a famous Aussie joint.

Spicy tuna maki, cucumber, takwan

Spicy tuna maki, cucumber, takwan

For tuna, I know the hotels serve them at sushi and sashimi buffets because the price of buffets can very well carry the sustainable price tag of line-caught tuna. Other restaurants, chefs, and cooks still need to watch what they buy. This group lamented the fact that other restaurants still do not buy sustainable fish because it’s a bit more expensive than “tuna without an address” or source.

Confit yellow fin tuna sandwich baguette with caper onion salsa

Confit yellow fin tuna sandwich baguette with caper onion salsa

In many of my flights or trips, fish that is served inflight is usually not the sustainable kind (or is not Slow Fish). Chicken is also not free range or sustainably-sourced. What does one eat? Even the butter is not real butter but a butter compound or a butter-flavored margarine.

chit-juan-sounds-fishy-sustainable-seafood-cocktail-3-2016oct14

What can we do to encourage our restaurants and hotels to buy slow fish?
It’s awareness of the public that may be important. If the market wants a fish with a name and origin, then this will force our restaurants to shape up and offer sustainably-sourced fish.
chit-juan-sounds-fishy-sustainable-tuna-2016oct14I see it changing now. In airlines, when the flight attendant gives a choice of fish or chicken, people take the chicken. If given the choice of chicken or beef, they choose beef. What’s with the fish you might ask? People already know. Unless you see the head of the fish, that fish fillet is suspect.

We hope that many more culinary people join this awareness caravan for better fish and for us not to overfish our already overfished waters. Even fish has to be checked and evaluated for its source and what it fed on.

Sounds fishy, don’t you think?

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