What does it take to get people interested in eating responsible seafood? Sustainability is confusing. Certainly it doesn’t help when the word is loosely tossed around in social and business settings as if it were the next political movement. Is the answer to blanket people with scientific reports, possibly scaring them towards more responsible seafood? There is biology indicating that we could be harming our oceans by fishing in environmentally unfriendly manners, yet at the same time, there is a significant amount of science showing that we need to eat more seafood. So how is it possible to achieve this balance?
Fortunately for groups like Seafood for the Future, Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish- The future of the last wild food, recently introduced an effective strategy which is already involving people in making more conscious decisions about the food they eat. In one condensed effort he put aside all the calculated seafood talk and told a story. Actually he told many stories, covering four different species of fish and the voices of fisherman and fish farmers all over the globe. At the heart of his story is the relationship between a once abundant food source and the people that live on its survival. To make this story even more relevant, and actually follow through with a call to action such as “eat more sustainable seafood,” Paul Greenberg himself, the man,the myth, and the soon-to-be legend, co-hosted a dinner in Hollywood at AMMO restaurant last night (Sunday, August 8th) featuring only sustainable seafood.
If the goal of AMMO chef Daniel Mattern (formerly of Lucques, AOC and Clarklewis in Portland) was to make the diner think “wow sustainable tastes better!” than he succeeded 100%. Arctic Char, Carlsbad Oysters, Mussels, Clams, and Barramundi were all prepared with both simplicity and perfection. Chef’s skill was seamlessly laced through each dish, not in an arrogant manner, but instead as brief but bold brushstrokes, making each dish that much more flawless and further exemplifying our mission here at SFF that “seafood should be approachable.” Textures were certainly not forgotten either, something that can easily magnify any fish dining experience. The crisp celery in the hot smoked arctic char salad was an unexpected but impeccable addition and certainly a playful crunch. The fennel amongst the clams and mussels added essential tooth, and the innovative use of flat leaf Italian parsley within the grilled Barramundi dish played brilliantly against the richness of the fish. For those people whose number one seafood choice is the “bad boy” Chilean sea bass, chef’s grilled Barramundi should quickly jettison this new fish to the top spot as he has mastered the art of making barramundi as rich as fried rocky road ice cream.
Interestingly, every item on the menu was farmed. And while Greenberg doesn’t explicitly state that he wholeheartedly supports all fish farming in his book, his positive and encouraging statements were certainly a breath of fresh air in the world of Anti-Fish Farming campaigns.
Here are three condensed lessons to be learned:
1. Sustainability is more than numbers, it is about a story and the interrelated nature of the story’s elements. By not eating fish all together, communities reliant on the economies created through this trade will be destroyed. On the same note, however, by overfishing species, many communities are in peril as they no longer have a product to support their profession. Every story about this paradox is a springboard towards awareness and eventually mobilizing people to act through compromise and improvement.
2. Four Fish is a must read and a great gateway novel into the world of sustainability
3. If you haven’t been to AMMO restaurant, go ASAP- you won’t regret it
Ammo’s Sustainable Seafood Menu:
Carlsbad oysters on the half-shell with shallot mignonette & fresh horseradish
Hot-smoked Arctic char with marinated beets, chopped egg & celery seed vinaigrette
Pan-roasted mussels & clams with summer shell beans, pickled chili, and fennel pollen
Grilled barramundu with eggplant caponata, basil & aioli
Roasted figs with honey ice cream
1155 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA