Sustainable Fish Recipes and The Big Fish Fight to Save Our Seas
What is Meant By Sustainable Fish and Seafood?
Sustainable fish and seafood essentially refers to species which either remain plentiful in our seas and oceans, or are ethically farmed in an environmentally friendly fashion to protect them from becoming endangered. Mackerel (pictured) is but one of the many examples of the fish species currently classed as being sustainable but the classification covers both saltwater and freshwater types of fish. This page will look at why we should eat only sustainable fish wherever possible and provide some delicious recipes for cooking them in your home kitchen.
Our Seas and Oceans are Dying...
We Are the Cause...
Now We Must Become the Cure...
Why Should We Care About Sustainable Fish and Seafood?
Personal experiences and shocking discoveries
There are undoubtedly some who think the publicity afforded to declining fish stocks amounts to little more than the paranoid rantings of extreme environmentalists, with a warped vision of reality. They will glance at a related story on their TV or in their newspaper before quickly dismissing it and happily tucking in to their cod and chips. It is imperative, however, to realise that this is by no means the case. There are many species of fish in our seas and oceans - around the world - which were once plentiful beyond counting but which have now been decimated to a fraction of their one time stock levels by over-fishing and by inappropriate fishing practices. I have personally seen the evidence of this in a number of locales - only on a small scale - but it was enough to break my heart on each occasion.
I was introduced to sea fishing/sea angling as a very young child in the 1970s, both from shore and from boat. How well I remember the delights of fishing from a pier or a small boat in the sea lochs and sounds of the West of Scotland (such as Loch Fyne, pictured.) It seemed that every time a line was dropped in to the water, it would come back up with a plump and edible fish on the hook. It took no time at all to catch enough fish for a delicious poached, fried or baked dinner. As I grew older, in to the 1980s and particularly the 90's, I ventured further afield, enjoying my fishing as much as ever and the later culinary delights which my catch provided.
It is difficult to pinpoint precisely when but sometime around the late 90's, I began to notice a very definite slump in the numbers and types of fish that not only I was catching but also that my friends and others fishing particular venues were catching. Often, blank fishing trips would occur, or the irritating dogfish would be all that was caught. No, this is not, "Fisherman's tales," or rueful reference to, "The one that got away!" This represented a definite reduction in the numbers of fish in these once bountiful waters.
This was illustrated never more clearly than when I revisited that idyllic scene of my earliest childhood sea fishing experiences - a small village near Oban - for the first time in more than twenty years, around 2003 or 2004. It was a beautiful May Bank Holiday weekend and a group of us had travelled north for a weekend of camping, fishing by day and sampling the liquid delights of the local hotel bar by night. I saw immediately that the village had changed (as had to be expected in a twenty year plus interval) but nothing prepared me for the shock of what I found when we asked the locals for fishing mark information. Most of them thought we were joking! "There's no fish here, lads," I remember one old man telling us. "They're long gone."
A large part of the problem in Scotland's once fish rich sea lochs is the fishing method known as, "Dredging." Imagine a mechanical digger clearing the ground where a new road is to be built, scraping away earth, rocks and all in its path. This is essentially what was done to the sea beds, scooping up not only all the fish in their path but leaving a once rich marine environment an underwater desert.
Inappropriate fishing methods such as dredging, nets which scoop up undersized fish and fishing quotas which actually mean many fish caught in nets have to be returned to the sea dead are combining to put fish on the table for future generations in very serious jeopardy.
We have to act...and we have to act now.
PS - At the time of creating this page (February 2011,) I hadn't been sea fishing in more than five years. I had reached the stage where I was simply torturing myself on each occasion with memories of what used to be... That changed in late April, 2011, when I made my first sea fishing trip in several years and I have made many more to a number of different locations in the interim, fishing both from boat and from shore. Sadly, my experiences have more than borne out my expectations.
North Sea Fishing and Discard - The horrific truth...
Discard is the process whereby fishermen are forced by Draconian EU laws to put back untold numbers of fish - dead! - to the seas each year. Prepare to be shocked by the images and facts contained in this very short video. Click on the arrow in the centre of the screen...
Breaded Whiting Fillet with Real Chips and Garden Peas
Fish and chips has long since been the most popular, "Fast food," in the UK. "The good companions," no lesser a luminary than Sir Winston Churchill once called fish and chips. It has withstood challenges from all comers - from the US fast food giants, to the varied Asian takeaways which can now be found throughout the UK - to remain the nation's favourite. The problem in modern times with fish and chips is that it is traditionally prepared from cod, or even haddock - two of the most endangered species of all in British waters and fishing grounds. This recipe therefore incorporates probably the closest alternative to cod or haddock - whiting.
Prep Time: Two hours
Total Time: Two and a half hours
- 2 large whiting fillets
- 2 large potatoes
- 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (approx 3 average slices of bread)
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp frozen peas
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices of fresh lemon and two sprigs of basil for garnish
- It is perhaps best to begin by explaining the unusually long preparation time quoted for this recipe. That is simply down to the way in which I prepare chips. It is a method first suggested by the experimental celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal. Although it is not of course necessary to use this method and quicker, more traditional chip preparation methods can be used, I honestly believe that where time permits, employing this method is more than worthwhile in terms of the final results.
- The potatoes should be peeled, sliced and chopped in to chips. They should then be added to a pot of cold water and put on to a high heat. When the water boils, the heat should be turned down and the chips simmered for five minutes only. They should be drained and added to a pot of cold water for a couple of minutes to cool them down. They should be placed in a large Tupperware container with a lid and in to the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
- The chips should be spread on a clean tea towel and carefully but thoroughly dried, before they are fried for the first time. They should be fried in sunflower oil for six or seven minutes and drained on kitchen paper. When they are cool, they go back in to the refrigerator for a further half hour.
- The eggs should be broken in to a flat bottomed bowl, seasoned and beaten. The fresh breadcrumbs should be spread on a large dinner plate. A couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil should be placed in a large, non-stick frying pan to come up to a medium heat.
- The secret of a crispy, even crust on the cooked fish is putting it through the egg and breadcrumbs twice. Draw each fillet through the beaten egg and pat it on both sides in the breadcrumbs. Repeat. Add the fish fillets to the pan and fry for three to four minutes each side until beautifully golden and crisp.
- The chips should be put in to the fryer for their second and final fry when the fish is in the frying pan. When the fish has been turned, the frozen peas should be placed in a large pan of boiling water to simmer for three minutes.
- The chips should be removed from the fryer and drained on kitchen paper. The peas should be drained through a colander. The fish should be carefully transferred to a plate with a fish slice/turner and the lemon and basil carefully arranged on top. The chips and peas can then be arranged alongside.
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Fried Mackerel Fillet in Oatmeal
It is herring that is far more often associated with being fried in oatmeal, rather than mackerel. The similarities between herring and mackerel are many, however, and mackerel works equally well prepared in this way. It may not be the most obvious of seasonings but the sprinkling of malt vinegar over the mackerel immediately before it is eaten gives this dish a very special, extra taste.
- 2 large mackerel fillets
- Desired number of baby new potatoes
- 4 tbsp medium grain oatmeal
- 1 tsp freshly chopped mint
- 1/2 oz butter
- 8 - 10 large lettuce leaves
- 1 small white onion
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Malt vinegar
- The potatoes should be washed and added to a large pot of lightly salted, cold water. The pot should be put on to a high heat until the water begins to boil and the heat then reduced to achieve a simmer for half an hour.
- When the potatoes have been simmering for around twenty minutes, the oatmeal should be spread out on a large dinner plate. Enough sunflower oil to comfortably cover the base should be added to a large frying pan and brought up to a medium heat. The mackerel fillets should be patted on both sides in the oatmeal to evenly coat them and added to the pan. They will take three to four minutes each side to fry.
- The lettuce leaves should be shredded. The small onion should be halved and finely sliced before being mixed with the lettuce and some black pepper. The salad should be arranged on the serving plates as a bed for the mackerel.
- The potatoes should be drained and returned to the empty pot. The butter and mint should be added and the potatoes carefully stirred to ensure even coating.
- The potatoes should be added to the plates before the mackerel fillets are placed on their salad beds and seasoned with salt and that all important malt vinegar.
Was that the Winter of our Discontent?
Will the Winter of 2014/15 represent the last through which we have to witness and endure this mindless slaughter?
Spring is the time of year most symbolic in nature of new life, new hope and new beginnings. Buds appear on plants and trees, certain animals awake from hibernation and newborn lambs gambol carefree in the fields, as Mother Nature begins to emerge once more from her Winter slumber. As Spring turns to Summer, this new life flourishes and grows, refreshing and replenishing our planet.
It is up to all of us to ensure that Spring and Summer 2015 are symbolic also of hope for the fish in our seas and oceans and that a new beginning is afforded in terms of their sustainability and very survival. Please, support The Big Fish Fight via one of the links further down this page, take account of sustainability when deciding which species of fish to put on your table and help put a stop to the senseless and meaningless slaughter which is destroying the vast waters of the world in which we live - before it becomes all too little, far too late...
Remember: we all of us are but the trusted caretakers of Planet Earth. This means that the fight belongs to each and every one of us...
Baked Fillet of Salmon with Greek Feta Salad and Garlic Granary Toast
There are some who dispute the inclusion of salmon as a sustainable fish. Given that this is farmed salmon, however, it is my belief that its inclusion is justified and I will continue to eat salmon on a fairly regular basis. Salmon is not only delicious, its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids also make it extremely beneficial to our health.
- 2 fillets of salmon (1" thick)
- 4 slices from granary loaf stick
- 6 large lettuce leaves
- Half a cucumber
- 4 medium tomatoes
- Half a red onion
- 24 pitted black olives
- 4 oz Greek feta cheese
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp freshly chopped mint leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Little drizzle of sunflower oil
- Put your oven on to preheat to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.
- Combine the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and chopped mint in a small bowl. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until required.
- Place a large sheet of tinfoil in to a baking tray. Drizzle a little sunflower oil in the centre (simply to prevent sticking) and add the salmon fillet, skin side down. Season with a little salt. Wrap the tinfoil to form a loose but sealed tent. Add the tray to the oven for 15 minutes.
- The lettuce leaves should be roughly shredded. The tomatoes should be halved and each half subsequently quartered in to segments. The cucumber should be sliced to a thickness of just less than 1" and each slice halved. The red onion half should be finely sliced. These ingredients should be added to a large serving dish along with the olives, seasoned with salt and black pepper and mixed thoroughly together.
- The feta cheese can simply be crumbled by hand and scattered over the salad, though in this instance it was diced to approximately 1/2". The dressing may then be taken from the refrigerator and poured evenly over the salad.
- The salmon should be removed from the oven and the toast put under the overhead grill. When the toast is golden, it should be rubbed with the peeled and partially crushed garlic clove. This imparts a delicious garlic flavour.
- The meal may now be plated and served.
Smoked Mackerel with Celery and Raisin Salad and Pan Roasted Baby New Potatoes
Smoked mackerel is not only a delicious and healthy type of fish to eat, it is also usually extremely inexpensive. There are a great many people who are put off eating smoked fish in the mistaken assumption that it is raw fish. Smoked mackerel is not raw, it is cooked by the smoke, rather than more conventional methods. If desired, however, the smoked mackerel fillets can be gently heated through prior to serving - not further cooked, or they will be wasted. Two easy ways of doing this are by placing them under a moderate overhead grill for five minutes or by wrapping them in tinfoil and placing them in to a preheated moderate oven for ten minutes. I prefer, however, to eat them cold and recommend this as the serving method.
- 2 fillets of smoked mackerel
- Baby new potatoes (quantity as desired)
- 6 small lettuce leaves
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 tbsp sun dried raisins
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh celery leaves
- Salt and black pepper
- The baby new potatoes should be washed but not peeled and added to a pot of cold water. The water should be brought to a boil and the heat reduced to a simmer for thirty minutes. Drain the potatoes through a colander and submerge them in a bowl of cold water for at least ten minutes. This will make them much easier to peel.
- When the potatoes are cool, simply rub them gently with the ball of your thumb to remove the skins. This should be very easy to do and not take long. Be careful, however, not to damage the flesh of the potatoes. Dry the potatoes carefully in a clean tea towel and put your deep frier on to heat.
- It is only the green part of the celery stalks which should be used. Cut off and discard the white, bulbuous end. Slice the stalks across the way to about a thickness of a quarter inch.
- The potatoes will take anything from 7 to 10 minutes to deep fry to golden brown. When they are in the frier, add the olive oil to a small saucepan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the celery, the raisins and peel and grate the garlic clove in to the pot. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Heat gently, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the potatoes are ready and have been drained on some kitchen paper on a plate.
- Lay the lettuce leaves on the serving plates and the mackerel fillets on top. Add the potatoes and a spoonful of the warm salad. The celery leaves (which are absolutely delicious and herby and sadly all too often discarded) should be roughly chopped and scattered as a garnish before the dish is served.
Pan Fried Coley Fillet with Tomato and Pepper Sauce and Mozzarella Croutons
Coley is a member of the cod family and can often cause considerable confusion, simply because it is known by so many different names, regionally and internationally. It may not be quite as tasty as Atlantic cod but if it is cooked in an appropriate fashion, it can be delicious. The fact that it remains so plentiful in our seas and oceans (for now) makes it the perfect alternative to cod.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: One hour
- 2 fresh coley fillets (skin on)
- 1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 large basil leaves
- 6 slices of French style bread stick
- 5 oz ball of low fat buffalo mozzarella cheese
- Pinch of paprika
- 2 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Pour the tomatoes in to a large pot or saucepan. Deseed the red bell pepper and chop it to 1/2" squares before adding it to the tomatoes. Tear two of the basil leaves only in to the pot. Peel and grate the garlic cloves in as well. Season with salt and pepper and put on to a high heat until the liquid begins to simmer. Reduce to a low heat and simmer as gently as possible for thirty-five to forty minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thick, lush sauce is formed.
- When the sauce is almost ready, spread the flour evenly on a large dinner plate and season. Add enough sunflower oil to a non-stick frying pan to cover the base and bring it up to a medium to high heat. Pat the skin side only of the coley fillets in the flour, gently shake off the excess and place them skin side down in the frying pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for three to four minutes on a fairly high heat until they can be seen to have cooked three-quarters of the way through. Reduce the heat and turn the fillets to cook for another couple of minutes on the flesh side.
- Toast the bread lightly under an overhead grill. Slice the mozzarella ball in to six even slices and place one slice on each piece of toast. Dust with paprika and place back under the grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese begins to melt.
- The sauce should be spread on a serving plate and the coley fillet placed skin side up on top. The mozzarella croutons should be added and the third basil leaf torn and scattered over them.
- Note that serving the coley fillet with the skin on or off is down to personal preference. The skin should be beautifully crisp and peel off easily with the aid of a blunt edged knife.
What Can I Do to Help and Support the Big Fish Fight? - Surely I can do more than support and follow it on Facebook and Twitter?
Update - 9th August, 2011: Last night, a programme was broadcast here in the UK updating people on the progress made by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Big Fish Fight. A lot of breakthroughs have been made in drawing attention to the problem and securing action by large fish processing companies and tentative action on the part of politicians. The fight, however, has a long way to go and your support is needed now as much as ever.
There is a lot that you personally can do to support The Big Fish Fight - online and offline. The tactics below are simply mere suggestions as to how you can help make a difference and the list is by no means exhaustive. Why not come up with some ideas of your own and share them with the wider world at large in the comments section of this page?
- Make a determined effort to eat only sustainable fish. Ask for them in your supermarket or fishmonger's. If they don't have them, ask them to get them in for you. If they won't? Shop elsewhere and tell others why you are doing so!
- Tell your friends! Online and offline, word of mouth remains the most powerful of all communication and advertising tools. Whether it be by sharing this page and others like it on Twitter, Facebook and more, or by telling an old friend you chance to meet in the street, this is the most effective way of all of supporting The Big Fish Fight and fish sustainability.
- Contact the decision making individuals and bodies in your country to express your support for fish sustainability. Your elected representatives are there to carry out your wishes - make your wishes in this respect known to your MP, MEP, Congressman or Senator today.
Simple Smoked Salmon Salad
This smoked salmon salad recipe really could not be easier. It takes no longer than 5 minutes to prepare and is therefore perfect for lunch perhaps on a day when time is short. The health benefits of smoked salmon are of course a further reason for preparing this recipe.
- 6 oz smoked salmon trimmings
- 4 oz packet of mixed green salad leaves
- 1/2 red onion
- 12 pitted black olives
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and white pepper
- Slices of crusty bread
- The red onion half should be sliced and separated in to strips. It should be added along with the salad leaves and the olives to a large serving dish and tossed to mix. The olive oil and seasoning should be added before the salad is again tossed. The smoked salmon should be scattered on top and the dish taken to the table along with the slices of bread. A pair of salad tongs will allow both diners to help themselves for their serving plates.
Support the Big Fish Fight on Facebook - An organised campaign to save the endangered species in our seas and oceans
The Big Fish Fight is a campaign launched by a number of celebrity chefs to draw attention to the wasteful fishing procedures and overfishing which is rendering so many species of fish endangered. Can you spare a moment to lend your support to this admirable campaign on Facebook via the link below...???
- Hugh's Fish Fight - Community | Facebook
Hugh's Fish Fight - Support the campaign. Find out more about the C4 Big Fish Fight Season See us on YouTube: hughsfishfight - Description: Half of all fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead due to the curr
Thank you for your visit to this site. I very much hope that you agree with the concept of eating sustainable fish only, as often as possible. Any comments or feedback you have may be left in the space below.