With seafood becoming the most unsustainable choice on the menu, Is there a better option?

Fresh fish — © Stanek Photography 2017

As a New Year’s resolution I promised myself I would become more knowledgeable about sustainability. With our never ending environmental problems and seemingly disinterested governments, I believe our only way is by monetary pressure. We all know that without demand there will be no supply, therefore if we stop buying they will not produce.

Why is sustainability so important?

There are huge problems involved with trying to save our oceans and the sea life it sustains for future generations. We all need to make informed decisions when purchasing our food in order to make our oceans more bio-diverse and abundant. Sadly the list is immeasurable of the products and ‘components’ we should not support. This can be due to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil production, excessive fishing industry, plastic pollution or the environmental damage caused producing the product.

But I do think in this consumer market we have to make changes and however small, they will always be a positive. So to add to my list of ‘NOT TO BUY’, I have added fish under threat. This can be for example due to an invasive species, overfishing, environmental pollution and climate change. Lionfish for example have become established in the Atlantic and with no predators are extremely destructive to native species. Feel very comfortable in eating as many of these unscrupulous Lionfish as possible!!!!

This has lead me to research into what proteins are more sustainable and it seems it will soon be a norm for us to be eating insects, that subject is for another day. For now I will stick to advocating Bivalve molluscs (there are many different types to choose from), today though MUSSELS as I adore them!

Mussels, clams, scallops, oysters etc are not fish but are bivalve molluscs. This is because they are animals that live in a shell that has two halves that can act as protection from predators by closing shut. They inhabit both fresh and saltwater and most of them do not move but attach themselves to a rock or for example. They feed by filtering the water around them and consuming the matter suspended within. Therefore they clean the water they live in, adding to their sustainability credentials.

Farmed Mussels for example are grown on ropes suspended in the ocean, they do not need to be fed and their shells are also grown by extracting carbon dioxide from their environment thus helping to reduce greenhouse gases. They are a wonderfully healthy source of protein, selenium, Vitamin B12, Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids. Research you local sustainable source, the method of growing them on ropes is seen as the less destructive method as no dredging is needed to harvest them.

Cooking Mussels: Sustainable and healthy, can it get any better???

Frequently I am asked how to cook mussels as they are commonly perceived to be difficult, they really are not I promise! Embark with something simple, this is a quick recipe I use when I have no time to cook but I want something fresh and healthy after a long day.

NOTE: Just do not cook the mussels for too long and the ones that don’t open, don’t eat!!!!!

Sophie’s quick Mussels with tomato sauce

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic , minced

1 red onion chopped

1 small pinch saffron

1lb -450g mussels — cleaned (Video below)

1lb-450g clams

olive oil

1 cup- 250ml Fino sherry

1lb-450 g tinned cherry tomatoes

1 small bunch fresh basil — leaves removed and stalks chopped finely

Method

1. sauté the red onion and garlic with a glug of olive oil. Nice and slowly until transparent and soft — 15 mins

2. Add the Fino sherry, tomatoes, saffron and basil — cook for 10 mins — simmering (not boiling)

3. Season well with salt and pepper

4. Add the clams and mussels — cover and leave for 5 mins to 10 mins simmering or until they have opened

5. Serve with bread and some alioli

(Note: I like to make my alioli with yogurt instead of mayonnaise, also you can add chillies with the tomatoes if you want some heat)

My quick Aioli

Mash garlic clove, pinch of saffron and squeeze of lemon in a pestle and mortar, add yogurt and season to taste. Much healthier!

Here is a wonderful video by the amazing Rick Stein on how to clean your mussels!

www.sophiestanek.com

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