Posts Tagged ‘tuna’

Chef Andrew Gruel’s Wild Pacific Albacore Tuna “Melt”

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


Chef Andrew Gruel and Jethro Naude are the proud owners of SlapFish, a “boat to plate” restaurant in Huntington Beach with a modern take on American seafood. At the heart of the casual dining establishment is a chalkboard menu that changes with the seasons and most recent fisheries data. When it comes to responsible and delicious seafood, these guys get it! We got a chance to talk with Chef Gruel about some of their responsible sourcing practices, on top of which he shared his mouthwatering tuna melt recipe featuring responsible American Tuna brand pole caught wild Pacific albacore. Yum!

Why is sourcing seafood responsibly important to you?

Well-managed sustainable seafood is also high quality seafood, and since our mission is to only sell the best seafood it goes hand in hand with responsible sourcing.

What’s so special about American Tuna?

It’s locally sourced and managed. It is msc certified. The quality of the product can’t be beat.

Are there variations you recommend for this recipe or suggestions when cooking with albacore in general?
Albacore is a very versatile fish. It is perfect prepared simply seared rare with some high quality vinegar and herbs, or cooked through and tossed together in a salad. The fat content allows the fish to work well with high acid sauces and dressings.

What other local seafood do you feature at Slapfish?
We feature whatever we can get from California and waters south into Mexico such as yellowtail, sole, dungeness crab, halibut, sablefish, mussels, oysters, white sea bass….the list goes on.

Do you have any advice for the novice home chef on sourcing seafood responsibly?

Ask as many questions as possible. Browse the internet and read up on more than one source of info regarding sustainable seafood. There is a lot of information out there regarding seafood, some meant to sensationalize the issue and paint fisherman and responsible farmer’s in a negative light. The most important thing is to buy fish from areas in which there are management plans in place to maintain healthy sustainable stocks. Google it.


6oz can of pole-and-line caught wild Pacific albacore (American Tuna)

1T grated carrot

1T chopped celery

1T chopped red bell pepper

1t sliced chives

1T chopped kalamata olives

1t chopped capers

1 lemon juiced and zested

2T dijon mustard

1/2 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise

1t balsalmic vinegar

1t Sriracha hot sauce

For the sandwhich:

2 thick slices artisan bread, handful of baby spinach, 2 slices provalone cheese, 3 slices tomato, and butter for toasting

Combine all the ingredients together for the salad. Build the sandwhich with the remaining ingredients and toast in butter either in the oven or on a stove-top. Serve hot.

Featured Partner-Sorrento Grille

Friday, June 11th, 2010

When we approach a prospective restaurant, it is always a mystery as to how the chef is going to respond to having a couple strangers in his/her kitchen asking about seafood. Second to the health inspector donning a clipboard, sani-wipes and a snarl, “sustainable seafood guys” might not be the most inviting guests (especially when we wear our wetsuits). Meeting Chef Ryan Adams, however, at Sorrento Grille in Laguna Beach certainly added immediate ease to our dialogue about their seafood policies. Upon introduction, the Chef was wiling to dive into the details regarding his seafood purchasing direction, reflecting a knowledge-level that might even daunt the most seasoned seafood sales representative. Fishing methods, stock assessments, habitat damage, and the basics of sustainability were fluently covered and within minutes we knew we had come across a benchmark restaurant.

Sorrento Grille’s creative new American cuisine is inspired by a farm to fork culinary philosophy. The menu features an offering of small plates, wood grilled flatbreads, a “virtual” shellfish raw bar, seafood specialties, and grilled steaks and chops. Chef Adam’s knowledge about seafood isn’t confined to marine conservation, but also yields the best plate of food possible. When a chef is extremely aware and cognizant about their seafood, that same care and attention is going to go into each and every dish served. His menu is simple and refined at the same time. The use of wood fired cooking (over fruitwoods, oak and grape vine cut) lends a refreshing contrast to the overly worked seafood dished being served at too many restaurants in Southern California.

Chef Adams has provided below a recipe for his Ahi Poke appetizer. While many species of tuna are overfished and are to be avoided, this particular dish sources pole caught yellowfin tuna from the Pacific. The tuna arrives in his restaurant within days. Pacific Yellowfin tuna populations are currently high.

Pole Caught Tuna

Ahi Poke Appetizer


3 oz. Ahi #1, diced 1/8”
3 ea. Sesame Crackers
1 Tb. Green Onion, sliced 1/8”
8 ea. Cucumber Slices 1/8”
¼ cup Japanese Red Seaweed, rinsed
3 Tb. Poke Sauce, prepared
½ tsp. Chives, finely sliced
1/8 oz. Onion Sprouts


In a medium metal mixing bowl, combine ahi, green onion and 2 Tb. Poke Sauce. Mix to combine evenly with a spoon. Next arrange the cucumber slices in a circle on an appetizer plate. Next, pile the red seaweed in the center of the cucumber slices. Then place a 2 ¼”diameter by 2”tall ring mold atop the seaweed and gently spoon the ahi mixture into it, packing it down lightly. Remove the ring when complete. With remaining poke sauce in a squeeze bottle, drizzle it around the outside of the ahi. Sprinkle the chives around, top ahi with the sesame crackers, and top the crackers with onion sprouts.

Poke Sauce


1 cup Soy Sauce
¼ cup Toasted White Sesame Seed
1 Tb. Black Sesame Seed
2 Tb. Sesame Oil
½ cup Soy Bean Oil
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper, ground fine
1/8 tsp. White Pepper, ground fine
1 Tb. Siracha Sauce
½ Tb. Garlic Mince, fine
½ tsp. Dark Brown Sugar


Combine all of the above ingredients in a metal mixing bowl and mix together until fully incorporated. When complete, transfer to a plastic container, cover, label, and store in walk-in cooler.

Greenpeace vs. Nobu

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Andrew at Nobu

Andrew at Nobu

Last Friday, Andrew and I were invited by a prominent sushi expert to attend a protest staged by Greenpeace at Nobu in Hollywood.  Nobu, Greenpeace contends, is contributing to the demise of an endangered species in offering bluefin tuna on its menu.  To better bring this issue to light, the first demonstration was orchestrated at Nobu in New York last week.  There, Greenpeace quietly posed as a group of regular diners in order to replace Nobu’s menus and cards with their own featuring entrees made with endangered species: rhinoceros, gorilla, tiger.  When the fake menus were spotted by a server, Greenpeace was politely asked to leave.  That much was expected, and Greenpeace was actually thoughtful enough to leave tips for the servers to compensate for the fact that no food was ordered.

The same plan was enacted in Hollywood on Friday night.  Nobu, being aware of the New York incident, was perhaps a little quicker to show Greenpeace the door.  However, as in NY, the initial group did not have the most important job of the evening.  Throughout the night, Greenpeace groups dining at Nobu asked servers various questions about the fake menus, about bluefin tuna, and about issues having to do with sustainability. The staff was on its heels all night, as they were unable to distinguish – after the initial group – who was a part of Greenpeace and who was not.

Andrew and I watched from the bar, since we are not proper activists and have our own strategy for changing consumer behavior where seafood is concerned.  Personally, I would not have noticed the undercover Greenpeace groups if I had not known what was going on.  Even so, Greenpeace achieved the effect it desired – for better or for worse – as I overheard a server cussing about the “…@#$! menus on every #@!$ table…”  Later in our meal, as we perused the case at the bar and asked about the yellowfin filet, our server volunteered that it was not bluefin, and that in any case we should not worry because all of their bluefin was farm-raised – just in case we had any concerns about that.  That told us two things: that the server had been coached to give a canned answer to all bluefin questions, and that she had little idea of the issues concerning bluefin.

Nobu-uniMore selfishly, it was an opportunity to have some really good sushi.  After all, we do not advocate that people avoid sushi.  We just want people to make the responsible choice whenever possible.  I had never tried uni (sea urchin roe) in spite of the fact that I spent my graduate career measuring and torturing Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.  With a little lemon juice, cilantro, black sea salt, and cucumber: exquisite and rich.  In fact, so rich that four bites were about three too many.  No problem with that, just bring a friend to share with.

Smelt roe and Quail eggs

Smelt roe and Quail eggs

Keeping with the egg theme, we moved on to smelt roe and quail eggs – also extremely rich and buttery.  The chef, who by now knew that I was trying a few things for the first time, would set pieces on the counter and step back to watch my reaction.  He got a big grin for this one.  My favorite by far was the scallop makisushi, shredded and creamy.  I could have eaten many, many of those.  We did try the yellowfin, which perhaps was not the best example we could set as the Seafood Guys.  However, we saw this as an alternative to the bluefin sashimi that was calling to us after a couple of glasses of Asahi.  It was unbelievably tender – absolutely melt-on-the-tongue texture.  They must age it or something, because it was possibly the best sashimi I’ve ever had.

The service at Nobu, by the way, is excellent.  Both the chefs and the servers are attentive and genuinely friendly.  It’s too bad that Nobu, as a company, does not do more to preserve the ocean resources upon which it depends.  These days, companies repond to factors that affect the bottom line, not to an internal sense of environmental stewardship, and we know that few companies can be expected to take the long-term view into consideration when their short-term survival is at stake.  My suggestion is this: pick something else besides bluefin at Nobu or at your own local sushi place.  These fish are listed as overfished by NOAA and are difficult to manage, because international cooperation is required for proper oversight of this highly migratory species.  Furthermore, the fact that populations are low and that quotas recommendations are being rejected is further undermined by under-reporting of catches.  More on this story is told in the new film End of the Line.  If you want some good recommendations for sustainable sushi, check out the blog and book here.

My additional recommendation for activists is to petition to add bluefin to the Fish and Wildlife list of endangered or threatened species.  Although listed internationally as an endangered species, bluefin is not listed under the Endangered Species Act in the US.  If it were, it would be subject to importation restrictions under international CITES oversight.  And it seems like a pretty darn good candidate for nomination.  So, why not petition to have it added?  I personally volunteer to help assemble the supporting biological documentation if other groups will get the signatures.  Let’s get together on this – it doesn’t have to be over sushi.