What is in this article?:
- Massachusetts restaurants highlight sustainable seafood
- Raising consumer awareness
Restaurants like Blue Ginger and City Landing will showcase dishes that feature seafood raised or fished in an ocean-friendly manner.
The New England Aquarium in Boston has teamed up with seven Massachusetts restaurants to highlight seafood that is being raised or fished in an ocean-friendly manner.
Dishes made using the seafood species selected by the aquarium will be highlighted as “Blue Plate Specials” at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, EVOO in Cambridge, Turner Fisheries Restaurant in Boston, Lumière in Newton, Area Four in Cambridge, Taranta Restaurant in Boston and City Landing in Boston.
“I think it’s a huge responsibility as ato take care of our sea,” said Ming Tsai, chef-owner of Blue Ginger and the newly opened Blue Dragon in Boston, as well as a member of the aquarium’s advisory board. “Want it or not, we have a lot of influence on what people eat. The sea is not infinite. When you watch National Geographic and you see that this species or that species is almost extinct, I worry about whether my children are going to see it.”
Tsai also noted that as a chef, he’s on the front lines of observing fisheries that are in trouble. For example, years ago at Blue Ginger he made a dish of miso- and sake-marinated Chilean sea bass. Back then it was easy to get fillets that were three feet long and two feet thick. Then he started getting fillets under two feet before news came out that Chilean sea bass were being overfished.
It took him nearly a year to find an adequate substitute, but after consulting with his purveyors, he settled on line-caught butterfish, also known as black cod or sablefish.
“It’s also the best tasting fish in the world,” Tsai said.
He’s featuring that dish — which has long been Blue Ginger’s top selling entrée, as his Blue Plate Special.
Tsai said highlighting the dish as sustainable is an opportunity to educate customers about the finite nature of the oceans’ resources. “People want to help this cause if it doesn’t take time and money, and it’s very easy to do,” he said, adding that he guides interested customers to the Seafood Watch smart phone app, which lets customers research a seafood item before ordering it in a restaurant.
Bill Brodsky, chef and owner of City Landing restaurant, which is across the street from the New England Aquarium, said he became involved in the project because he admires his neighbor’s sustainability initiative. “While the aquarium is a nice place to spend a day, I don’t think people realize how much research is put forth by the organization.”
He’s featuring two items as Blue Plate specials: Alaska pollock fish and chips, and long-fin squid calamari. “The long fin’s actually a product that we use all the time,” he said, noting that the squid species is great from a sustainability initiative because they reproduce quickly and swim in large schools, making it easy for fisherman to catch them with very little bycatch — other species that unwittingly get caught in the fishing process.
The pollock is a replacement for local haddock, which is what’s usually in his fish and chips. “Pollock’s a very cool species of fish,” he said. “It reproduces amazingly fast so they’re in no danger of going extinct, and [Alaska fishermen] have very advanced methods of fishing these pollock so they don’t disturb the environment.”