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Living in Halifax means the fishing industry is everywhere. Because we're so close to the coast, our fish (and shellfish) can be quite fresh. Fish is also a nutritious alternative for those who are considering limiting their meat intake. This is inspired by a recent post on eating fish sustainably in Canada by Jenny Weitzman (https://www.dal.ca/news/2019/10/28/confusion-at-the-fish-counter--how-to-eat-fish-responsibly.html). I wanted to reflect on their great post. In my last post, I gave some options for tinned fish, so I’ll dive into my fresh fish choices here.
Personally, salmon is a treat. Everyone knows it’s one of the healthiest fishes, chockful of those all-important, balancing Omega-3s. Almost all the salmon we find in Halifax are farmed. Nova Scotia has salmon farms, but the most descriptive label we get on salmon is “Atlantic salmon.” As a result, we don’t know if salmon we buy is from Nova Scotia or from Argentina. Buying from local stores, like Evan’s Seafood, Afishionado, or Hooked at the Brewery Market, lets you control where your fish is coming from.
No matter where it’s coming from, however, Salmon is expensive. Outside of shellfish we pick up fish from the grocery stores in clean fillets. Pete’s Frootique, and sometimes the fish section at Sobeys, do offer cheaper rough cuts. These rough cuts are the trimmings from the fillets, often lined with the very fat that Omega-3s come from. So not only are they cheaper per pound, but also more nutritious per pound. It won't make for a picturesque fillet, but maybe for a picturesque, colorful stir-fry. And if there’s none left, don’t be afraid to ask the fish counterperson if they have any trimmings left!
Haddock is one of my favorites. It's a bit more affordable than salmon and super quick to cook. All grocery stores with a fish section will carry haddock. Whether it’s farm-raised like salmon or wild caught is not clear. Like salmon, if that's a big concern, one way to mitigate that is to choose where you shop carefully. While haddock isn’t overfished to the point that Atlantic cod is, it’s best to eat it as a treat and buy it from as close to the source as possible. I think that on the spectrum of sustainability, haddock is the better choice compared to salmon.
Growing up I never liked haddock because I thought I could always taste its fishiness. I know now that that fishiness means it’s been a long time since the fish was caught and packaged. Buying from straight from a fisherman and buying from somewhere with consistent deliveries, like Evan’s Seafood, is a sure way to avoid that. I like to dust the fillets with some flour and do a quick fry. With a side of some extra lemony broccoli and curry tartare sauce for dipping, nothing is tastier.
I say shellfish, but my true love is mussels. There’s plenty of others to choose from, but fresh, salty mussels are where it’s at for me. Not only are shellfish like mussels and oysters the most sustainable kinds of fish, they’re also multi-use. Mussel and oyster shells are a great addition to a fish broth. Crushed up, they also function as fertilizer. Toss the crushed shells in your compost or your window herb plant—or even that patch of brown grass across the street.
Mussels, like haddock, can be found in most grocery stores with a fish section. Like the other fish, the freshest option will mean sourcing the mussels as close to the fishermen as possible. If I’m getting it at the grocery store, I’ll go for the mussels on display instead of the ones netted or boxed, but that’s personal preference. When I’m cooking mussels, I like strong flavors: lots of extra virgin olive oil and tons of garlic and some broth is all I need. The sweetness of mussels also go well with tomato sauce.
What about you, kind krafters? To fish or not to fish? Is curry tartare sauce as much of a niche prefence as my friends make it out to be?
Until next time,