Seafood sustainability is a topic of growing concern, and its one that I like to pay special attention to when developing and sharing recipes. Because of that, and in honour of National Seafood Month, I’ve decided to collect Diversivore’s sustainable seafood recipes and Pantry Pages together in one roundup. There’s a lot of incredible and delicious foods coming out of our oceans, and we owe it to ourselves and the planet to protect them for future generations while enjoying them today. This page will always be growing, with new recipes and educational content added whenever possible, so be sure to check back in from time to time.
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Why Does Sustainable Seafood Matter?
The oceans have fed countless people for generations, and they remain one of the most astonishing and bountiful sources of food on Earth. But careless or exploitative over-fishing, coupled with irresponsible aquaculture (seafood farming) and rampant habitat degradation have put many ocean dwellers at risk. This is a threat not only to sea life, but to the people around the world who rely upon it.
Because the oceans are home to so many different kinds of food species, it can be difficult to feel educated or informed when it comes to making good choices. Fortunately there some amazing resources to help you navigate deep waters (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
First and foremost, I love the OceanWise program run by the Vancouver Aquarium, and not just because I live in the Vancouver area. In addition to great educational features, OceanWise works with an array of retailers in order to label and certify seafood and seafood sellers. But if you don’t live in BC, it’s still one of the best resources out there thanks in no small part to the comprehensive information covering the sustainability of dozens of species of fish and shellfish. These recommendations are determined based on careful review of literature and current fisheries practices and management, and they’re an absolute blessing for those looking to make sustainable choices.
The Marine Stewardship Council is also a phenomenal resource, and another agency that works with industries in order to market sustainable seafood to consumers. The same organization also runs the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, helping to guide consumers towards environmentally sound farmed seafood options.
Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium is another spectacular resource, especially for those living in the USA. Every single US state has an individual guide to seafood geared towards the best choices available locally.
Whenever possible, I’ve given information to help you source the ingredients in the recipes below in a sustainable and ecologically conscious fashion. I’ve also done my best to provide alternatives and variations so that you can tackle these recipes regardless of where you are in the world.
If you enjoy this kind of content and you’d like to see more of it, please consider subscribing to Diversivore’s email updates (updates only, no spam, no selling/sharing your information, and no advertising).
Might as well start with the obvious one, eh? There are around 28,000 known species of fish in our oceans, and yet when it comes to food, fish is all-too-often treated as a singular entity. Fortunately, there are all kinds of delicious fish species, each with different characteristics, flavours, and (of course) sustainability concerns. Three of my favourites (salmon, halibut, and tuna) feature prominently here, but you can bet that you’ll see more and more fish showing up in the future.
Honey and Dijon Baked Salmon
This is simple simple simple stuff, easy enough for any weeknight, but elegant (and delicious) enough for company.
With Apricot Relish
I wish I could accurately convey just how incredible these burgers are. Apricots go into the burgers themselves, as well as the amazing relish. Top it off with my not-so-secret Quadruple-M sauce (which I need to bottle and sell), and you’ve got an unforgettable burger.
Watermelon and Ahi Tuna Crudo
Ahi (Yellowfin) Tuna is a fish so good that you really don’t even need to cook it. Paired with watermelon, shallots, good olive oil, and a wee bit of fennel, it’s even more incredible.
This Mexican recipe is incredibly easy (cook it and leave it), not to mention versatile. Want a fancy-looking plated dinner? Go for it. Want to shred it and throw it into tacos? Also awesome.
Seared Halibut Cheeks
With Golden Kiwi, Avocado, & Macadamia Tartare
I love savoury dishes that use fruit. I also love fish cheeks (If you’ve never tried them, believe me when I say that they are the BEST cut on a fish). These halibut cheeks are amazing with an avocado/kiwi/macadamia tartare, and the whole dish is way easier than you might think at first glance.
Yucatecan Fish Tacos
With Green Peach Salsa
These use halibut, but any good firm white fish (cod, for example) would work amazingly well here. Fish tacos are always amazing, but I wanted to try them with some of the spices and flavour of the Yucatan, plus a delicious, not-too-sweet green peach salsa.
Lemon & Ginger Sole
With Forbidden Rice
An earlier iteration of the idea that inspired my halibut cheeks above, this dish differs quite a bit in terms of flavour. It’s a take on the classic Sole a la Meuniere, but with (much cheaper) Pacific Dover Sole, along with ginger, lemon, and amazing black rice.
Fish is awesome, but it’s not the only food that comes out of the ocean. Shellfish is a broad term including crustaceans (shrimp, crab, etc.), molluscs (clams, oysters, mussels, squid, etc.) and several other groups I haven’t had the chance to work with yet.
Shellfish are among the most delicious seafoods out there, and they can be some of the most sustainable. Unfortunately, some of them (like shrimp) also rank among the most confusing and in some cases unsustainable. It can be difficult, but a little bit of education and the help of a good fishmonger can help guide you to some incredible dishes that also happen to be great for the planet.
Scallops & Honey Gastrique
With Parsley & Blue Cheese
Oh man, I love these. Scallops and blue cheese might sound like an odd combination, but I assure you that with the right, mellow, sweet-ish blue cheese, the combination is absolutely perfect. Add the green herbal character of parsley and a sweet/sour gastrique, and you’ve got something that hits every tastebud just right.
Spot Prawn Enchiladas
With Rajas and Buttermilk Sauce
Spot prawns are a triple-whammy in my books. They’re local, they’re super-sustainbly harvested, and they’re incredibly tasty. They do tend to be pricey (which is to be expected – cheap shrimp are rarely sustainably caught or farmed), which makes this amazing dish so great. Two or three per person and you’ve got an unforgettable Mexican dinner, complete with a scratch-made jocoque (Mexican buttermilk/crema) sauce and roasted poblanos.
Shrimp and Clams
With Black Bean and Citrus Sauce
While I used an ASC-approved farmed shrimp along with Manila clams in this take on a Chinese classic, you could easily substitute any number of shellfish types for an amazing result.
Scallops and Asparagus
With Lemon Spaghettini
Oh scallops. Best seafood ever? Best FOOD ever? I’ll let you decide where you stand, but trust me when I say that searing a perfect scallop isn’t too tough, and you’ll be very happy pairing them with this incredible pasta.
Green Tomato Fettuccine
with Bacon and Prawns
Most of my seafood recipes are pescetarian, but once in a while it’s really nice to bring a bit o’ red meat into the meal too. Bacon and prawns work so nicely together, especially against the flavourful acidity of green tomatoes. Any number of sustainable shrimp would work beautifully here, include humpback or sideline shrimp, or small-and-tasty Northern shrimp.
Mexican Seafood Soup
With Red Pipian Sauce
This is sort of a sauce-turned-soup, which is great for those of us (all of us?) who have wanted to drink up the amazing sauce left on our plates. The base is chilies, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and spices, and clams, squid, and small northern shrimp perfectly pair with it.
San Diego Mussel & Clam Linguine
A farmer’s market mashup/experiment that worked out beautifully, this mussel and clam pasta features coconut milk, carrots, squash blossoms, tomato, basil, and more. It’s easy to love, and it’s also easy to modify to suit the ingredients you have on hand.
I adore gumbo, and I had a hankering mid-winter. But I was also looking for a challenge, so I decided to cook it with only regional, seasonal Pacific Northwest fare. Golden beets, black kale, and Jerusalem artichokes provide an amazing vegetable compliment to the Dungeness crab and Andouille sausage. Traditional technique with non-traditional ingredients make for a memorable and delicious variation on a classic.
Seaweed and Dried Seafood
When we think of seafood, we tend not to think about pantry staples. After all, when you’re looking for good fish, the word fresh is stressed pretty regularly. But there are some exceptional dried seafoods (fish, shellfish, and seaweed) and a plethora of wonderful seafood-based sauces. I’m a particularly big proponent of making dashi stock from two essential Japanese dried seafood staples, katsuobushi and kombu, both of which I explore further in the Pantry Page section below.
If you’re trying to figure out where the seafood is, don’t worry – you can’t see it. This hearty Japanese stew features quail eggs and fried tofu in a broth built around scratch-made dashi, which is made with kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried shaved skipjack tuna). This ‘sea-broth’ as it’s sometimes called is a foundational element in Japanese cooking, and a source of some of the richest umami flavours on Earth. For more on how it works and the ingredients, check out the Seafood Pantry links below.
Another Japanese classic that might seem unrelated to seafood is ponzu shoyu, or ponzu sauce. This delicious and distinctive citrus-soy sauce can be made without kombu or katsuobushi, but it is FAR better when those umami building blocks are included. This sauce alone is a good reason to try experimenting with them – plus it’s spectacular with sashimi!
The Seafood Pantry
Diversivore is about much more than recipes. Because the focus here is on education and empowering home cooks, I’ve dedicated two key sections of the site to helping people become confident cooks while expand their culinary horizons. The Ingredient Pages focus primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, while The Pantry explores sauces, oils, dried goods and more. There are currently two seafood based Pantry Pages and more coming in the future. These pages are designed to guide you through finding, choosing, and using ingredients while also exploring the intricacies and varieties that can help you to achieve culinary greatness.
Katsuobushi is dried, shaved skipjack tuna (often erroneously referred to as bonito). It is used on its own as a garnish, but its more important role is as one of the key ingredients in dashi (Japanese ‘sea stock,’ an essential basic ingredient and flavour builder in Japanese cooking). Katsuobushi is easy to use and has an undeniable effect on your cooking. Dried shaved fish might sound strange at first, but it’s an ingredient you’ll fall in love with.
Kombu is dried kelp, and it’s amazing. It’s packed with glutamates, which deliver the savoury ‘umami’ flavour that drives so much Japanese cooking. It’s also ridiculously easy to use. Kombu comes in a variety of types and shapes (many of which are explore in the article), but even the most basic and readily available kind will help you create amazing food.
Looking for More?
New sustainable seafood recipes are always coming to Diversivore, so stay tuned. If you want to be the first to know about new updates, you can subscribe to the email list (your email will never be shared, and you won’t receive advertising or spam).
And if you’re looking for more amazing seafood recipes, check out my friend Dana’s site Killing Thyme. As an eco-conscious pescetarian, Dana’s always creating amazing seafood dishes with sustainability (and flavour!) at the forefront.
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for any of the external (off-site) recommendations or links given in this article. I choose to recommend them based on personal experience and on my belief in their educational value. Happy cooking.
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