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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fish/Seafood/Caviar

TIP OF THE DAY: Sea Urchin

Today’s tip is sea urchin: beyond the sushi bar. It was inspired by a story in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine.

At the sushi bar, we always order an uni sushi or two. If they were less pricey, we would toss down half a dozen.

Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, an ancient shellfish, found worldwide. In the U.S., sea urchins are harvested in the oceans off California, Florida and Maine. They’re expensive to gather, and the price is passed along.

More than a few of the world’s sea urchin sites have been overfished. But in the waters off of Norway lie a king’s ransom of sea urchin.

Evidently, Norwegians are not as fond of sea urchin as we are, and until Roderick Sloan began to develop a trade among Europe’s fine restaurants, they had no market. Once cursed as a pest by lobstermen, they were routinely smashed with hammers and tossed overboard.

Sloan, a 44-year-old émigré Scot, lives 88 miles north of the Arctic Circle, outside the town of Nordskot (population 55). It’s one of Norway’s darkest, bleakest, most remote coastal villages. He is the only full-time sea urchin diver in Norway, with one employee to tend the boat.

Sloan dons scuba equipment and swims down to depths of 50 feet, diving among treacherous waves and gutsy squalls. The local species, called Norwegian greens (for the hue of the shell—the binomial name is Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), are at their prime from November to the end of February (imagine how cold the water is!).

   

live_uni_nigiri_ILBSea-230

Sea urchin, fresh from the sea. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

 

More than 100,000 tons of the delicacy are consumed a year worldwide. France and Japan are big consumers; the Japanese exchange urchins as gifts during New Year celebrations.

In the center of the hard shell is a row of five roe or coral (sometimes called tongues), which are the gonads of both males and females. Exotic, briny and grainy, the meat has nuances of iodine and metal and a custardlike, pillowy consistency. Uni is a love-it-or-hate-it food.

Of the 800 species of sea urchin, some are much more palatable than others. As a sea urchin lover, we are chagrined that the flavor of expensive sushi bar uni can be wildly inconsistent. It is based on gender, season, terroir and even the particular seaweed the animal eats.

When all the factors are united, uni are celestial. At other times, they are as are as bland and disappointing as a mealy apple.

 

sea-urchins-open-shell-smithsonian-230

Sea urchins brought up from the floor of the
ocean. Photo by Karoline O.A. Pettersen |
Smithsonian.

 

HOW TO ENJOY SEA URCHIN

Here are culinary ideas from around the world for how to enjoy sea urchin:

  • Raw in New Zealand; with a squeeze of lemon in the Mediterranean; and with lemon, onions and olive oil in Chile.
  • In pasta sauce in Italy.
  • In omelets and scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, béchamel and Hollandaise sauces and the boullie (egg foam) for a soufflé in France.
  • As sashimi or sushi, with soy sauce and wasabi, in Japan; or in a donburi (rice bowl) with ikura and shiso leaf.
  •  
    It’s up to the cook to decide how to use them in recipes. Think baked, ceviche, chowder/soup, croquettes, custard, grilled fish, mousse, oyster stew, pasta, sauce and tempura.

    Here’s an interesting surf and turf: raw sea urchin wrapped in roast beef. Just as it sounds, wrap a thin slice of roast beef around a raw sea urchin or two; lay on a bed of boiled spinach and serve with ponzu (a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and citrus juice).

     

    For a delightful hors d’oeuvre or first course, make uni toast: Spread crostini with quality unsalted butter and uni, garnished with scallions and a sprinkling of sea salt.

    Uni burrata combines creamy burrata cheese with with the briny flavor of uni, then sides it with button mushrooms and yuzu for balance.

    Here are some sea urchin recipes.
     
    ABOUT SEA URCHINS

    Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs (for their protruding spiny needles) and krakebolle, “crow’s balls,” in Norwegian, are among the earliest known forms of life. The fossil record dates back some 450 million years. The creatures can be found in almost every major marine habitat from the poles to the Equator, and from shallow inlets to ocean depths of more than 17,000 feet.

    Sea urchins “look like squash balls encased in pine thistles” according to Franz Lidz, who wrote the Smithsonian article (you can read it in full here).

    The shell is round and spiny, typically from 1.2 to 3.9 inches in diameter. The colors vary: black, blue, brown, green, olive, purple, red. The animals lack brains.

    Sea urchins have hundreds of adhesive tube feet and move slowly over the sandy sea floor pursuing a diet of kelp. They are members of the botanical class Echinoidea, and are cousins of sand dollars (there are some 950 species of echinoids, and 800 species of sea urchins).

    And the pricey critters will no doubt get pricier. The French and Irish exhausted their resident stocks of sea urchin years ago. In Maine, Nova Scotia and Japan, urchin populations have been drastically reduced by overfishing and disease.

    They are not always welcome: The colonies can be destructive. Off the coasts of California and Tasmania, overfishing of the animal’s natural predators and large-scale change in ocean circulation (believed to be an effect of climate change) have turned vast stretches of the sea floor into moonscape-like “urchin barrens.” The urchins multiply, chew down the kelp and devastate marine ecosystems.

    No doubt, those species are not among the tasty species, or divers would appear to reap the wealth on the ocean floor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wood-Planked Seafood

    grilled-oysters-bleunortheastseafood-230

    How delicious: oysters lightly cooked on a
    cedar plank. Photo courtesy Bleu Northeast
    Seafood | Burlington.

     

    Simple yet sophisticated, cedar planking is an easy grilling technique. The wood plank adds a smoky and woodsy flavor to meats, vegetables and especially seafood.

    Executive Chef Doug Paine of Bleu Northeast Seafood in Burlington, Vermont is currently cooking Cedar Plank Roasted Whole Trout with Malt Vinegar, Rhubarb and Dandelion Cole Slaw. A delicious recipe that uses everyday ingredients, Cedar Plank Trout pairs exceptionally well with a farmhouse style saison beer.

    But you can start small. How about grilling oysters?

    RECIPE: WOOD GRILLED OYSTERS

    Ingredients

  • 2 dozen well washed oysters (any variety will work; Chef Paine recipe used Pemaquids)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish (you can substitute prepared horseradish)
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Cedar grilling plank (available everywhere barbecue supplies are sold, or online)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the grill with hard wood. Apple, oak or maple is recommended for flavor. Charcoal or gas will also work, but it won’t have the same smoky aroma.

    2. PLACE the oysters on the grill with the cup side down. Grill them for about 5 minutes or until they open.

    3. USE tongs to remove oysters from the grill and place them on a towel carefully, so as to not spill the juice inside.

    4. ALLOW oysters to cool for a few minutes, then remove the top shell. A paring knife may be needed to cut the oyster from the shell.

    5. SPRINKLE with the grated horseradish and spoon a few drops of vinegar on top. Enjoy with a beer. The two dozen oysters will disappear quickly.

     

    cedar-planks-elizabethkarmelAMZ-230

    Cedar planks add woodsy aroma and flavor to grilled foods. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Karmel | Amazon.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    Headed to the New York theatre district? Haru, a popular modern Japanese restaurant with several locations in Manhattan (and one in Boston), has opened a new restaurant there.

    Haru recently moved its theatre district location, Haru Broadway, to Haru Times Square. It’s located in the Times Square Building, the former headquarters of the New York Times (229 West 43rd Street).

    In addition to lunch and dinner, there’s a happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (scoot from the matinee to enjoy drinks and light bites), and a private room that holds up to 15.

    One of our favorite items on the menu is the Trio Of Fish Tacos, a fusion dish that uses taco shells made from wonton dough. Three full-size tacos are filled with three different sashimi blends: tuna with cherry tomato salsa, salmon with avocado and striped bass with apple yuzu ceviche sauce.

    Here’s the recipe if you want to try it at home.

    Another recipe that can be made by any home cook is summer rolls. Summer rolls, a Vietnamese specialty, are never fried but served in an uncooked rice noodle wrap. Here’s the recipe, with an explanation below about the differences among summer rolls, spring rolls and egg rolls.

       

    japanese-tacos-haru-230

    Our favorite dish: Three Fish Tacos. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

     

    summer-rolls-haru-230r

    An overhead view of summer rolls you can
    make at home with this recipe. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    SPRING ROLLS VS. SUMMER ROLLS VS. EGG ROLLS

  • Summer rolls are never fried, but made of cooked and raw ingredients wrapped in rice paper. Summer rolls are typically filled with pork and/or shrimp, rice vermicelli (noodles) and fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint. Summer rolls are served with a dipping sauce made of hoisin sauce and peanut butter, flavored with garlic; or a sweet and hot red chili sauce (served by Haru); or a ginger shallot sauce.
  • Spring rolls, on the other hand, are always fried. Spring rolls are also made of rice flour dough and filled with pork and/or shrimp, plus bean thread vermicelli and shredded cabbage. They are often much narrower than summer rolls. In the U.S., you’ll also find vegetarian summer rolls, filled with mango and cucumber or other choices. The dipping sauce for spring rolls is typically a blend of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce (or tamari) with minced scallions and a splash of toasted sesame oil.
  • Egg rolls are fried, like spring rolls, but the dough is different. It’s a wheat dough that contains eggs, hence the name. The filling varies by the chef: chopped shrimp, ground beef, ground chicken or turkey, matchstick-sliced pork or Chinese sausage. Minced cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms round out popular recipes.
  •  

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPE: Ceviche-Stuffed Avocado

    June 28th is National Ceviche Day, honoring one of our favorite foods. If you’re a sashimi lover and haven’t tried ceviche, today’s the day.

    Another reason to eat lots of ceviche: It’s a low calorie, good-for you lunch or first course. And it’s been nourishing man since ancient times.

    THE HISTORY OF CEVICHE

    Ceviche—shellfish cured by acidic citrus juice—has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors wrote of an Inca dish of raw fish marinated in chicha, a fermented maize beer that dates back some 2,000 years. The concept evolved into ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay), raw fish or shellfish cured with citrus juice.

    A chemical process occurs when the fish/shellfish is marinated in the highly acidic citrus juice, which denatures the protein. The result is similar to what happens when the fish is cooked with heat. Instead of “cooking,” however, the fish is cured in the marinade, which adds its own delicious flavors.

    Both Ecuador and Peru claim to have originated ceviche; both were part of the Incan Empire. But why quibble: Today, ceviche—or seviche or sebiche, depending on the country—is so popular that there are cevicherias, restaurants that specialize in ceviche.

       

    ceviche-trio_10566817_JamesCamp-DRM-230

    A trio of different ceviches. Photo © James Camp | Dreamstime.

     

    The Spanish brought the lime and onion that are integral to modern ceviche. In fact, the term “ceviche” is thought to come from the Spanish escabeche, meaning marinade. Others argue that the word comes from the Quechua (Incan) word siwichi—although we could not find this word in the Quechua dictionary we consulted.

    THE CEVICHE MENU

    There’s a whole menu of ceviche, using different types of fish and seafood and country-specific preparations. Each country adds its own spin based on local seafood and preference for ingredients like avocado. Some add a dressing of ketchup or a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise, especially with shrimp ceviche. (Frankly, we’d reach for the cocktail sauce.)

  • Ecuadorian ceviche is served with popcorn.
  • Mexican ceviche includes a dice of onion and tomato—popular ingredient of salsa fresca. Traditional seasonings include chili powder, onions, garlic, cilantro and a little sea salt. Mackerel ceviche is popular, as are red snapper, sole and striped bass.
  • Panamanian ceviche includes hot sauce and is served with saltines.
  • Peruvian ceviche combines shrimp with native sweet potatoes and/or yucca, plus onion and the native aji amarillo chile. Cancha, large and crunchy Andean corn kernels that have been toasted and salted (i.e., corn nuts), are also added. The ingredients are marinated in the juice of a Peruvian lemon related to the Key lime. Ceviche is considered to be the national dish of Peru.
  •  

    California style: ceviche in an avocado half. Photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico.

     

    But this year for National Ceviche Day, we’re going California style, adding ceviche to the well of an avocado.

    If you prefer fish to seafood, try this variation, stuffed with red snapper ceviche or tuna ceviche. If you’re wary of raw fish (even cured raw fish), try this shrimp ceviche recipe.

    RECIPE: CEVICHE-STUFFED AVOCADO

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • ½ pound large shrimp, shelled, cleaned and tails removed
  • ½ pound sea scallops
  • ½ red jalapeño or serrano chile, diced, plus 8 thin slices
  • 1 shallot, diced or thinly sliced
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped plus extra leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds (substitute diced tomato or red bell pepper)
  • 4 Avocados from Mexico, halved and pits removed
  •  
    Optional Additions (Take Your Pick)

  • Diced fresh tomato
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic cloves, minced
  • Hot sauce
  • Jícama, peeled and diced
  • Pickles or sweet gherkins, chopped
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Tomato juice
  •  
    Serve With (Take Your Pick)

  • Corn nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Saltines or other crackers
  • Tortilla chips
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CHOP shrimp and scallops into large, diced pieces and add to a large bowl. Add jalapeño, shallots and lime juice and stir well to coat. Season with kosher salt and cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for flavors to meld.

    2. ADD cilantro and pomegranate seeds and mix.

    3. TO SERVE: Prepare avocado halves and divide ceviche evenly among them. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced jalapeño or serrano peppers.

     
    MORE CEVICHE FUN

    Here’s a template to create your ideal ceviche recipe.

    What to drink with ceviche.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crab Cake Salad With An Asian Twist

    A take-out crab cake salad. You can plate the
    ingredients more beautifully at home. Photo
    courtesy Genji.

     

    We’re such a crab cake fan that we almost never pass them by when we find them on a menu.

    You can make crab cakes from scratch for this recipe, but we had a “doggie bag” crab cake from a restaurant dinner. Rather than reheat it, we adapted this recipe from Genji:

    Ingredients

  • Bed of shredded lettuce or favorite greens
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Rice noodles or soba noodles
  • Red cabbage, grated
  • Carrots, grated
  • Optional ingredients: chopped peanuts, capers, corn kernels
  • Dressing: Thai peanut dressing, Asian dressing or Asian vinaigrette
  • Garnish: finely sliced green onion (scallion), cilantro or parsley
  • Crab cake (here’s a recipe)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE a bed of greens on a plate. Place the crab cake in the center.

    2. ADD the other ingredients in “rays” around the crab cake (like rays of sunlight around the sun).

    3. GARNISH as desired. Serve with dressing on the side.
     
    Suggested beverage: iced green jasmine tea.

     
    Variations

  • If making your own crab cakes, use panko instead of American bread crumbs.
  • Serve with a side of Asian slaw (recipe).
  • Alternative dressing: sriracha mayonnaise or wasabi mayonnaise (just mix sriracha or wasabi into regular mayo).
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Lobster Poached Eggs

    lobster-poached-egg-ruschmeyers-montauk-230sq

    Lobster poached egg. Photo courtesy
    Ruschmeyer’s | Montauk.

     

    On the brunch menu at Ruschmeyer’s Hotel in Montauk, New York, is an egg sandwich.

    It’s not a humble egg sandwich. One side of the toasted English muffin contains a sunnyside-up egg over melted Emmental cheese; the other side has lightly dressed baby arugula topped with poached lobster.

    We’ll have two, please.

    Or more likely, we’ll be heading out to buy some s will making be making our own version for Father’s Day, along with a garnish of salmon caviar.

    The menu also features a seaside version of Eggs Benedict: poached egg, hollandaise, and chives, but replacing the Canadian bacon with blue-claw crab.

     

    If you’re nowhere near the hotel, consider making a special brunch by whipping up your own version of both dishes.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Modern Surf & Turf

    poached-egg-salmon-cafeSFA-230

    Surf and turf can combine any foods from
    each realm. Above, grilled salmon and a
    poached egg from Cafe SFA in New York City.

     

    We love surf and turf in all forms, and recently added this tasty dish from Cafe SFA to our list of unusual surf and turf combinations (below).

    There’s a chicken egg, from the turf, and a fish filet from the surf.

    Chef Alex Reyes topped grilled asparagus with a salmon fillet and a soft poached egg, garnished with asparagus puree, sesame hollandaise sauce, nori powder and green tea salt.

    Create your own version of surf and turf, a 50-year-old concept that serves proteins from the land and sea on the same plate.

    Although it started with a lobster and steak, any items from the realms of the earth and the sea can be combined into surf and turf. Clever Japanese chefs have even created surf and turf sushi, such as a lobster maki topped with torched tenderloin from Ten Prime Steak And Sushi in Providence, Rhode Island.

     

    SURF & TURF HISTORY

    While meat and seafood have been served at the same meal since since the dawn of plenty, and Diamond Jim Brady (1856-1917) famously consumed platters heaped with steaks and lobsters, the pairing known as surf and turf originated in 1960s America.

    Some sources noted in FoodTimeline.org claim that the concept originated on the East Coast, based on a 1966 print article in the Miami News. The columnist says that the restaurant La Hasta has created the best thing since lox and bagels—surf and turf; and that on some weekends the management had to take the dish off the menu, since demand exceeded supply.

    Others say the West Coast has the honors: Food writers Jane and Michael Stern claim, without printed proof, that the same dish by the same name was served at the Sky City restaurant in the Seattle Space Needle, at the 1962 World’s Fair. That may be, but documentation is required. If anybody remembers it from the World’s Fair, please raise your hand. There’s a bonus if you have the menu.

    The earliest earliest print reference found by FoodTimeline.org, our favorite reference source on the history of all things food, was published in the Eureka [California] Humboldt Standard of August 14, 1964: “An entrée in restaurants in Portland [Oregon] is called surf and turf—a combination of lobster and steak.”

    Sorry, East Coasters: 1964 beats 1966.

    And regardless, surf and turf became the darling of American steakhouse menus, combining the two most expensive items on the menu: lobster (surf) and steak or filet mignon (turf). It has its own food holiday, February 29th, National Surf & Turf Day.

     

     
    Regardless of origin, consider serving a modern surf and turf variation for Father’s Day or other special occasion.

    Some versions don’t even require a special occasion—last night we had steak and tuna skewers.

    Each week we “invent” a different combination. Recent pairings have included:
     
    THE NEW SURF AND TURF COMBINATIONS

  • Bacon-topped halibut filet
  • Bass wrapped in pancetta, with caviar-topped oysters
  • Burger garnished with a fried shrimp (or make it edgy with a fish stick and tartar sauce)
  • Beef and tuna carpaccio (raw)
  • Eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon and lobster or crab
  • Grilled lamb chop or pork chop and scallops
  • Grilled skirt steak and shrimp or crab cakes
  • Filet mignon with lump crab meat or crab legs
  • Lamb chops with bacon-wrapped scallops
  •  

    lobster-filetmignon-whitewine-ruthschris-230

    Classic Surf & Turf. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

  • Lobster ravioli with veal sauce, veal ravioli with bay scallops, oxtail ravioli with lobster claws
  • Mixed greens salad with sliced steak (lamb, pork, chicken, etc.) and grilled scallops or shrimp
  • Salmon burgers and bacon
  • Seared scallop with crispy prosciutto
  • Shrimp skewers with beef skewers
  • Steak and rare grilled salmon, tuna or other favorite fish
  • Steak and shrimp: grilled steak with fried shrimp or with shrimp cocktail
  • Steak and fried oysters (or, garnish the steak with a raw oyster)
  •  
    Try your own hand at the new surf and turf and let us know your favorites.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Shrimp Tandoori Salad with Mango Dressing

    We really enjoyed this grilled shrimp salad recipe from McCormick, and can’t wait to make it again.

    Similar to the tandoori oven cooking method, these Indian-spiced shrimp skewers are roasted on high heat on the grill. They are then added to a salad packed with bold sweet and sour flavors. A fresh mango dressing adds a splash of fruitiness and color.

    RECIPE: GRILLED SHRIMP TANDOORI SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

    For The Mango Dressing

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper, ground
  •    

    grilled_shrimp_tandoori_salad_mccormick-230

    A delicious twist on grilled shrimp salad. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    For The Salad

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 packages (5 ounces each) mixed baby greens
  • 1 cup halved small heirloom or specialty tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  •  

    garam-masala5276734GeorginaPalmer-230

    The components of garam masala. Photo by
    Georgina Palmer | IST.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the mango dressing: Process mango in blender or food processor until puréed (about 1 cup purée). Add lime juice, oil, garam masala, salt and cayenne; process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    2. MIX 1/4 cup of the mint, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, honey, garam masala, ginger, salt and cayenne in small bowl. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Brush with mint mixture. Thread mango onto skewers. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

    3. GRILL shrimp skewers over high heat 4 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, turning once and brushing occasionally with mint mixture. Grill mango skewers 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly charred.

    4. ARRANGE greens, tomatoes and onion on 6 serving plates. Top with grilled shrimp, mango and remaining 3 tablespoons mint. Drizzle with 1/2 of the dressing.

    5. STORE remaining dressing in the fridge. Serve over salad greens, grilled or broiled shrimp or chicken, or toss with couscous or quinoa.

     
    WHAT IS GARAM MASALA

    Garam masala is an aromatic spice blend originating in northern India. It is like other spice blends in that the ingredients and proportions will vary somewhat by cook or manufacturer.

    The ingredients generally include black, brown and green cardamom pods; black and white peppercorns; cinnamon; clove; coriander; cumin; nutmeg and/or mace*; and turmeric.

    Other ingredients can include bay leaf, fennel seeds, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace, malabar leaf, mustard seed, saffron, star anise and tamarind.

    In Northern Indian cuisine, garam masala is typically used in powder form, while in Southern India it is often made into a paste with coconut milk, vinegar or water.

    In fine cooking, the spices are toasted and ground before use, to maintain the intensity of the flavor. But you can buy preground blends, like McCormick’s garam masala.

    If you want to blend your own, here’s a very simple recipe. Start with these proportions and then adjust to your particular preferences:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander (cilantro seed)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  
    *Nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree, while the more mild mace is the dried reddish covering of the seed.

      

    Comments

    TRENDS: Chicken Up, Seafood, Pork & Beef Down

    shifting-appetites-trends-chart-wsj-500

    Chart courtesy The Wall Street Journal.

     
     

    While Americans are aware of the need to improve their diets, there’s been a decline in consumption of one of the healthiest food choices: fish.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, the last year for which figures are available, the average U.S. consumer ate:

  • 82 pounds of chicken
  • 57 pounds of beef
  • 46 pounds of pork
  • 14.4 pounds of seafood, down from 15 pounds in 2011 and a record high of 16.6 pounds consumed in 2004 (by comparison, the average Japanese consumer eats 120 pounds a year, while Spaniards consume 96 pounds)
  •  
    As you can see from the chart, chicken—affordable and versatile—is the big winner in growth, and the higher-calorie, higher cholesterol beef and pork have experienced some decline. But while the overall category experienced positive gains, the decline in per capita consumption is down.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s a combination of higher prices (quality fresh fish is $15 or more a pound while fresh whole chicken is 10% of that) and consumer hesitance, because they don’t know how to cook fish properly (and at those prices, who wants overcooked fish?).

    Is help on the horizon? Maybe not: The seafood industry is much more fragmented than the beef and pork industries, which organized major marketing campaigns to promote their products.

    Here’s a tip: Although it’s a treat, you don’t need to pay top dollar for fresh fish. Look for values in frozen fish and stock up. Defrost it slowly in the fridge.

    After all, if you order fish at restaurant chains, it’s likely frozen—and few people know the difference.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Choose Sustainable Seafood

    We were away last week on Earth Day and missed publishing this piece on sustainable seafood. But it’s important to be conscious of it every day of the year.

    Earth Day, initiated on April 22, 1970 and celebrated annually, is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.

    There are many things each of us can do to “save the planet” and its precious resources. Today, we’ll raise some awareness about your seafood choices.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, with the stock overfished, depleted or recovering from depletion. With seafood growing in demand, it’s critical to get on board to reverse this trend and build a more responsible seafood supply chain.

    You can do your part by purchasing sustainable seafood, both for home consumption and at restaurants. Here’s your best resource for understanding what’s sustainable:

     

    grilled-octopus-scarpettabeverlyhills-230

    Grilled octopus is a favorite of many, but it’s
    not a sustainable seafood. Instead, consider
    squid (calamari). Photo courtesy Scarpetta
    Restaurant | Beverly Hills.

     

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program works to transform the seafood market in ways that support ocean-friendly fishing and fish-farming operations. Seafood Watch provides science-based seafood recommendations through its website, pocket guides and phone apps to consumers, chefs and wholesale seafood buyers.

    Take a minute to download the app or a printable pocket guide
    , or simply check out your seafood of choice on the website.

    Some retailers and restaurateurs act sustainably, by offering only sustainable choices and/or displaying the color-coded sustainability ratings. Whole Foods, for example, does both and no longer carries red-rated species. Other retailers and restaurants give consumers what they want, regardless of how it impacts the environment or the future of the species. For the most part, it’s up to you to ask or look it up.

    FOLLOW THE RATINGS

    There are independent, nonprofit organizations (see below)that constantly monitor the species and rate them as to sustainability. What is sustainable changes on an ongoing basis, due to the wax and wane of the seafood stock and environmental conditions. These ratings apply to both wild-caught and farmed fish:

  • Green label means the best choice: The species is abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways.
  • Yellow label is a good alternative: There are some concerns about the health of their habitat or catch methods for the species. (But you could act even more sustainably and go for the green.)
  • Red label means avoid: The species suffers from overfishing or the current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats. Take a pass on these species for now.
  •  
    The guides also provide alternatives for red-rated species. For example:

     

    seared-ahi-tuna-ruthschris-230

    Seared ahi (yellowfin) tuna is extremely
    popular. That’s one reason why it’s
    overfished and on the “avoid” list. Photo
    courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     
  • Instead of Atlantic halibut, choose Pacific halibut.
  • Instead of grey sole, choose the yellow-rated Dover sole.
  • Instead of octopus, choose calamari (squid), which is green-or yellow-rated depending on the fishery.
  • Instead of sturgeon, choose responsibly farmed trout.
  • Instead of imported wild-caught shrimp, choose domestic wild-caught shrimp, which are green- or yellow-rated depending upon the location.
  • Instead of red-rated swordfish, choose swordfish from MSC-certified fisheries, such as harpoon fisheries in Nova Scotia or the Florida handline/landline fisheries.
  • Instead of turbot, choose Pacific halibut.
  • Instead of yellowfin (ahi) tuna, choose green-rated tuna from Maldives.
  • Instead of skate wing, choose yellow-rated Atlantic flounder.
  •  
    So make ocean-friendly choices. By purchasing seafood that is green or yellow rated, you will enjoy something delicious and feel good that you’re doing your part to ensure the supply of seafood for future generations.

     

     
    Learn more about sustainability from these two rating organizations:

  • The Marine Stewardship Council is the world’s leading certification for sustainable seafood. It’s a non-governmental organization using a multi-stakeholder, international certification program to provide incentives for fisheries to address key issues such as overfishing and bycatch.
  • The Blue Ocean Institute focuses on conservation by studying ocean changes around the world, and what those changes mean for marine life as well as humans.
  •  
    Here are more ways to subtly change your diet to save our planet.

      

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