With so much information available about food these days, it’s sometimes difficult to know which choices to make. Since I can be finicky about fish, I struggle to get more seafood in my diet. Add in the larger issue of sustainability and it’s enough to make you throw in the kitchen towel.
Freelance writer, editor and photographer Jane Mundy has made these choices easier with the publication of The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2; More seafood recipes that are good for the planet. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation initiative that partners with restaurants and suppliers of seafood products that commit to offering more sustainable options to their customers.
A seafood source is deemed Ocean Wise if it meets four criteria relating to abundance, management and method of harvest. This list is continually updated so a fish that is Ocean Wise today (or at the time of writing the book) should be checked before purchase to ensure that it hasn’t fallen to Not Recommended status. This can be done easily at www.oceanwise.ca. There’s an abundance of information here; it’s worth taking the time to explore.
Since the release of the original Ocean Wise cookbook in 2010, the movement to promote sustainable, responsibly sourced food has grown by leaps and bounds. More chefs across the country are preparing food that matters before it hits the plate, and customers are loving the results.
I enjoyed the things I learned from this book as much as I liked the dishes. I found information about many types of seafood, some that were new to me. Substitutions are encouraged to ensure sustainable choices. There are even a few dishes using canned fish. Adventurous cooking techniques are demystified and safety tips are offered if you prefer your seafood raw. There are instructions for home made condiments like Blueberry Pickle and Black Olive Powder that are used in later recipes but are versatile enough to become pantry staples.
Ocean Wise 2 is truly a beginner-to-advanced book. Mundy has taken restaurant recipes compiled from chefs across Canada and made them accessible to the home cook. They are rated by difficulty, so you can choose which to make for a week night dinner and which to save for a Sunday afternoon with lots of preparation time. I’m including one of each here for you.
My “gotta make this as soon as possible” dish is the Grilled Lingcod Tacos, Goddess Sauce and Summer Coleslaw. This dish is so easy it almost cooks itself. It also includes my favourite hot sauce and satisfies my obsession with tacos. I may not wait until summer to grill this one up.
My “I’m going to pretend I’m going to make this someday” recipe is Dungeness Crab Ravioli. Hand made ravioli is filled with crab meat, ricotta cheese and a perfect egg yolk and served with a rich, creamy bisque and garlic breadcrumbs. I may not get brave enough to tackle this one anytime soon but I’ll savour every minute thinking about it.
It’s this contrast that makes Ocean Wise 2 a great book if you are looking for something fancy to impress someone on date night or you are simply trying to get your kids to eat a better kind of fish stick. Take the plunge, you’ll be hooked. (You know I had to go there.)
Recipes and photos excerpted from The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2, edited by Jane Mundy.
Grilled Lingcod Tacos, Goddess Sauce and Summer Coleslaw
Chef Chris Mills, Joey Restaurant Group, Vancouver
These fish tacos are authentic, simple to make, and a perfect summer meal. Sauces are the key to great tacos. With this recipe you make one, the Goddess Sauce, and buy one, the Valentina hot sauce.
TIP: I use new wooden clothes pins to keep the tacos folded.
SUBSTITUTIONS: Pacific halibut or any firm-fleshed fish. You can substitute your favourite hot sauce here for the Valentina.
½ cup (125 mL) Mayonnaise (p. 16)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped green onions
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ tsp (2 mL) chopped garlic
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
½ tsp (5 mL) dried tarragon
1 anchovy fillet, chopped (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, blending until smooth.
3 cups (750 mL) thinly sliced green cabbage
½ cup (125 mL) peeled and grated carrot
¼ cup (60 mL) thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped and loosely packed cilantro
¼ cup (60 mL) rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp (1 mL) sea salt
Place cabbage, carrots and red onions in a colander; rinse thoroughly with cold water to crisp. Allow to drain for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk cilantro, vinegar, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add vegetables. Toss well to coat.
1 lb (450 g) lingcod, cut into strips
Twelve 6-inch (15 cm) white corn tortillas
¼ cup (60 mL) grated cheddar cheese
2 avocados, diced
1 cup (250 mL) shredded lettuce
½ cup (125 mL) diced tomatoes
¼ cup (60 mL) diced white onions
¼ cup (60 mL) Goddess Sauce
3 Tbsp (45 mL) Valentina hot sauce
Grill fish on the barbecue with salt and pepper until it is just cooked, about 90 seconds per side. (Or heat 1 Tbsp / 15 mL olive oil in a heavy, large skillet and panfry until cooked through.) Meanwhile, place the tortillas spread out on a preheated barbecue with grated cheese on them. Spoon a teaspoon of Goddess Sauce onto the cheese and place the cooked fish on top. Pile the remaining ingredients on top of each individual taco and gently fold them in half. Finish with a drizzle of Valentina hot sauce.
Serve with a side of coleslaw and the remaining Goddess Sauce in a small bowl. Leftover Goddess Sauce will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, and goes well with just about any white fish.
Light and just slightly spicy, these fish tacos are best paired with crisp dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc or a lighter style Chardonnay.
Dungeness Crab Ravioli
Chef Tim Evans, The Cascade Room and Charlie’s Little Italian, Vancouver
This dish appears on the feature sheet at Charlie’s Little Italian in the late summer during peak crab season. Serves 4 mains or 8 appetizers.
Lobster or shrimp meat for the crab or you can use spinach instead for vegetarians. “00” flour is an Italian measurement that indicates how finely ground the flour is and how much of the bran and germ have been removed. 00 is best for making pasta but all-purpose flour will do.
RICOTTA CRAB FILLING
2 cups (500 mL) ricotta cheese
2 pinches of kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 lemon, juiced and zested
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh chopped tarragon
1 cup (250 mL) Dungeness crab meat
8 free range egg yolks
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make sure texture is even and refrigerate until ready to use.
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of kosher salt
2 cups (500 mL) 00 flour
2 egg yolks
Mix eggs, olive oil and salt. Pour flour into a large mixing bowl and create a well in the middle with a fork. Pour egg mixture into flour and gently fold in sides with the fork until dough starts to form. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. If the dough looks a little dry, add a small amount of water until it comes together. If it looks a little wet, add a touch more flour.
After 5 minutes the dough should be smooth and have elasticity. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
After pasta dough has rested, roll out in pasta machine or with rolling pin until fingertips can be just seen through the dough. Cut into 16 large 4-inch (10 cm) squares.
Lay out 8 pasta squares. Place 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of ricotta mixture into the centre of each one.
Make a well in the centre of the ricotta with the back of a spoon and place in egg yolk being very careful not to break it. Wet edges of pasta square with a little egg yolk or water and press the remaining squares on top to form the raviolo.
Press gently but firmly around the edge of each raviolo to seal and make sure water cannot enter.
Poach the ravioli in simmering salty water for 2–3 minutes until tender.
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
1 Tbsp (15 mL) brandy
4 cups (1 L) crab or Fish Stock (p. 14)
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream
In a saucepan, cook onion, celery, carrot and garlic until translucent. Add tomato paste and cook out until thickened and coating vegetables. Add brandy to deglaze. Add stock and reduce by half then add cream and reduce by half. Strain and keep warm.
1 cup (250 mL) panko
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp (2 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Stir ingredients into breadcrumbs and toast in oven for 3 minutes or until golden brown.
Place two raviolo in each bowl and poor over bisque. Garnish with garlic bread crumbs, olive oil and Italian parsley, as desired.
Di Lenardo, Pinot Grigio.