Enjoy the great taste of sustainable seafood
While landlocked Utah is fortunate to have diverse seafood offerings, not all fish we consume is harvested with the health of species (and the ocean) in mind. As consumers, it’s unpleasant be part of the “demand” equation that harms a species. More and more consumers are willing to ask: Where did this fish come from?
Seafood sustainability can be a loaded and confusing term, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch (SeafoodWatch.org) program serves as a valuable resource, with comprehensive and easy-to-follow sustainability recommendations that are routinely updated. And, for ease, you can even find the “Best Choice” and “Good Alternative” recommendations at local Seafood Watch-partnering grocery stores around town, at Harmons Neighborhood Grocer and Whole Foods Market.
Not only does supporting sustainability bring relief to the environment, but it can turn any dining experience into a feel-good affair. And fortunately, many local establishments have already done their sustainability homework, keeping an eye on these recommendations and creating menu items as consciously sustainable as they are delicious to eat.
Read on for four of the most sustainable seafood choices, along with outstanding local establishments that prepare them. In an effort to encourage you to cook sustainable catches at home, the chefs offer their expert tips along with suggested pairings.
Questions for your fishmonger
Where did this fish come from? (It’s better to buy fish caught or farmed in the U.S. over other countries)
Was it caught or farmed in Utah? (It’s always better to choose local species over those shipped in.)
How was it caught? (Did harvesting it cause damage to the habitat or other fish species?)
Was it farmed or wild-caught? (Wild-caught is best, unless it was farmed sustainably in the U.S.)
If farmed, is it: tilapia, shrimp, bass, trout or Arctic char that’s raised in the U.S. in recirculating systems?
Is this fish tied to contaminants such as mercury, PCBs, antibiotics, etc.?
Of the 18 varieties of scallops rated by Seafood Watch, 15 are listed as a “Best Choice”—making scallops almost always a safe bet for ordering on the menu or at the seafood counter.
Since opening in 2014, Harbor Seafood & Steak Co. has established itself as a destination for fresh, delicious and sustainable seafood. Among the tasty offerings are the wild-caught Maine scallops, the most popular dish on the menu.
Chef Justin Jacobsen says the entrée is distinguished by using giant dry-packed scallops as opposed to the more common wet-packed scallops. The scallops, seared to perfection, are sweet, plump and served alongside roasted garlic mash and buttery warm golden beets with crispy prosciutto.
Like all Maine scallops, these are heavily regulated to sustainability standards by Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. Harbor is the only restaurant in Utah that prepares this type of scallops, which happen to be the same type featured at the highly acclaimed (and sustainable) restaurant Sage at the Aria resort in Las Vegas.
Chef’s tips for scallops:
Start with a heavy-duty aluminum frying pan on high heat and add a 90/10 canola/olive oil blend to achieve a high smoke point. Add enough oil for the scallops to be barely submerged.
Add the scallops around the outside of the pan to distribute the heat evenly, then turn down the heat to medium high and let them sear until deeply caramelized.
Flip them over, add a little more oil, and turn the heat back to high to start the process over. Jacobsen prefers his scallops medium-rare to medium—approximately 115 to 125 degrees.
Enjoy it with: buttery, creamy sides, since the seafood contains no fat and is all muscle. Scallops will also pair well with any seasonal vegetable.
Harbor Seafood & Steak Co.
2302 Parleys Way, SLC
When it comes to tuna, Seafood Watch recommends pole-and-line-caught albacore or white tuna as the best, most sustainable choice.
Since 1993, Liberty Heights Fresh has led the local food scene with sustainable and authentic offerings. Owner Steven Rosenberg believes in seeking out foods that align with his culinary mission—a principle that eventually led to the creation of the mighty Antonia Tuna Sandwich.
The tuna featured in the sandwich is a type of albacore—but don’t call it that. While not caught in the United States, the Bonito del Norte is a premium tuna from the Cantabrian Sea in Basque country, where, years ago, Rosenberg watched from the shore as fishermen caught the sought-after fish using traditional pole-and-line fishing techniques. After tasting the tuna for himself, he knew he had to carry it in his market.
The mayo-free tuna-salad sandwich, named after a former employee who created it, includes fennel, celery, red onion and capers, and is served on an Eva’s Bakery baguette. In addition to the sandwich, you can purchase the tuna salad and jars of the Arroyabe-brand tuna in store year-round.
Enjoy it with: Bonito del Norte—or other canned albacore tuna—pairs well with crackers or toast and simple garnishes like chopped peppers or onions. If making a tuna salad, try opting for a dressing made from good vinegar and extra virgin olive oil rather than mayonnaise.
Liberty Heights Fresh
1290 S. 1100 East, SLC
Of the many salmon varieties rated by Seafood Watch, Pacific salmon is one of the best. Look for wild-caught salmon in the summer months, while sustainable farm-raised salmon can be found year-round.
Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House is a gem on the local seafood scene, with menu offerings from the namesake oysters to crab cakes as delicious as they are sustainable. Having lived in Sweden for 10 years, owner Kimi Eklund has drawn upon inspiration of simple, fresh ingredients—not to mention a modern and gorgeous décor—in her newest, now 4-year-old restaurant.
The Pacific salmon entrée is a standout on Eklund’s menu. Perfectly seared and baked, the salmon is surrounded by a bed of seasonal vegetables and accentuated with a sweet-chile sauce starring whole-roasted tomatoes, shrimp and bacon. The salmon is sustainably farm-raised, and Eklund anticipates offering wild-caught Alaskan salmon for the summer months, as she’s done in previous years.
Chef’s tips for salmon:
Pan-sear the salmon to crispy with desired flavors and seasoning.
Bake for several minutes afterward to cook to medium-rare (Eklund’s preference), or desired temperature. (Temperature could range from 350-400 degrees for 10 or more minutes.)
Enjoy it with: herbs that provide a light balance to the fish, like dill, thyme and tarragon. Also pairs well with vegetables like asparagus, zucchini and squash.
Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House
2155 S. Highland Drive, SLC
While there are several types of cod with varying ratings, Seafood Watch considers black cod caught in Alaska and the Northwest region a “Best Choice.”
Since opening in 2014, owner and chef Tyler Stokes has sought to make Provisions a go-to dining experience with a focus on organic and responsibly farmed ingredients. And considering the ever-changing, seasonally inspired and sustainable dishes on the menu, Stokes has definitely made his case.
He describes the seafood offerings on the menu as the “hottest ticket,” and the caramelized Alaskan black cod is one of the more unforgettable dishes. The buttery cod, which stays moist and is able to hold onto marinades well, is first seared and then cooked in the oven, served alongside complementary parsnip, radicchio and blood orange.
Chef’s tips for cod:
Marinate cod with soy or miso to help develop caramelization during the cooking process.
Pan-sear the cod until golden brown.
Roast it in the oven after searing until flakey (times and temperatures will vary), but cod is forgiving and can be cooked longer than other fish.
Enjoy it with: Cod pairs well with Asian, strong flavors like curry, soy, miso, red wine and olives.
3364 S. 2300 East, SLC