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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Organic Seafood????

Do you ever get weary of the onslaught of hype we get over what food we should or should not eat? I sure do, but there is a new twist in food marketing now,the so called organic's. Many food ingredients will come as organic, to qualify as certified organic a strict set of rules must be adhered to. Visit the USDA national Organic Program for the complete program I believe in many cases, organic is better but the one that got me the last few days has been the marketing of certified organic seafood. It just can’t happen, not by following the rules above, and not with simple logic. How does one know for a certainty where a fish in the wild swims and what does it eat, and what it does, it does that contain anything not allowed on the list for certification?
Let's first look at what some consider this a new trend in dining, yet it is the original way of dining. Go out in the field and forage for what you require for the daily meal, take it home and enjoy. In doing so the diner enjoys a flavor experience that only the freshest ingredients can provide. Farm to fork food is locally-sourced, seasonally influenced, and produced in a sustainable and organic fashion.  From fruit to nuts, meat and cheese, fowl and vegetables, every ingredient should be chosen as if they came off the farm minutes ago.
Why? Foods are more flavorful as they have traveled less and therefore are fresher. They are more nutritious because the longer the food travels from afar it loses health-promoting components, it has less opportunity to be contaminated with chemicals like sulfur dioxide (used to preserve freshness) or just fuel fumes and chemical sprays use to transport the food from large distance. Sulphites are used as preservatives used: antimicrobials that inhibit growth of bacteria, yeasts, or molds; antioxidants that slow air oxidation of fats and lipids, which leads to rancidity; or to block the natural ripening and enzymatic processes that continue to occur in food after harvest.
Proteins (meat, fish and fowl) are often packaged with addition of preserving gasses, carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen, allow these food items extended shelf life up to as much 112 days (diced lamb). In Canada a system called MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) is used to extend the shelf life of proteins, it is a process of removing or changing the gas concentrations (oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide) from proteins. The US uses both the CO2 and MAP methods, often in combination. Extending to the shelf life of proteins poses higher health risks for the consumer.   Thus farm to fork philosophy provides far a superior dairy, vegetable or protein to consumers.Farm to table philosophy supports local economies because the money spent on local food returns to the local purveyor supporting the "home grown" economy. The local purveyor provides a fresher product can charge a fair (often less) price. Gives the local purveyor opportunity to hire more local employees as well as building personal relationships with their clients. Local, also gives the dining establishment a stronger reputation within the community as one actually supports the community.
Promotes seasonal dining because eating local often translates to eating what's seasonal in your area and offers us the chance to eat in conjunction with what nature is bearing to harvest. Seasonal dining means that chefs need to be creative in menu offerings, thus an ever changing opportunity for the consumer, no more stagnant menus, the same old same old has past.Chefs who support the philosophy buy at least 50% of their ingredients from small farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food producers within 100 miles and less than 150 miles from their kitchens, when possible. Climate may require flexibility in the philosophy, clearly a fresh most vegetables purchased in the middle of December in most of Canada cannot be grown locally. Yet, when it is seasonally available it is always first choice. The only way you could have an organic product would be to farm it, raise it, ensuring it is completely free from anything that could have it labelled as a GMO (genetically modified food) which then leads to a whole new batch of contentious issues.Most for products can carry the label as organic and be farmed to the table, however, I have some issues with fish and seafood being labelled such. As for fish and seafood it is nearly impossible to bear such a designation, as no fresh or sea water marine animal lives in a non polluted environment.   Whether Pacific salmon, Lake Erie Pickerel of Gulf of Mexico shellfish, all marine life in all the worlds oceans are subjected to environmental pollutants.
In January of 2006, California passed a law that bans the labeling of seafood as organic, one seller of this product is quoted as saying". Organic is so hot right. It’s a buzzword, it delivers more impact". Perhaps so, but it can also be a lie! Be watchful of anything fish or seafood labelled organic, or eco-farmed.
"The reality, they say, is that for certain types of aquaculture, there are few, if any operations that don't damage the environment"."There really is no ecologically friendly large fish or shrimp operation that I know of," said Sophika Kostyniuk, California markets campaigner for the Coastal Alliance of Aquaculture Reform in Vancouver, British Columbia. For farmed salmon, she said, there is little difference between operations touted as organic and others that don't make that claim. Fish are kept in cages in the open ocean, she said, with few controls over waste. Diseases are transmitted to wild fish, and the farmed salmon sometimes escape into the wild. Salmon farmers use wild fish as feed and apply antibiotics and pesticides, Kostyniuk said.
There are sustainable aquaculture operations, she said, and have been for thousands of years, but they involve fish, such as tilapia and carp, that are not carnivorous. For most farmed shrimp, mangrove forests are destroyed, she said. In the wild, trawling for shrimp tears up the bottom in a way that is compared to clear-cutting a forest. For every pound of shrimp that is caught, she said, 10 pounds of other sea creatures, including marine turtles, are caught and discarded".“It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment,” Michael Vecchione of NOAA Fisheries said. Among the chemicals detected were tributyltin (TBT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT).  They are known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) because they don't degrade and persist in the environment for a very long time.
In other words, it is just impossible to certify that ocean fish and seafood are 100% organic. You decide is Organic seafood for you?


Linguine With Roasted Garlic & Clam Sauce

1 dozen little neck clams; scrubbed clean
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 cup white wine
12 oz fresh linguine; cooked and drained

Place garlic on square of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender.

Peel garlic and coarsely chop. Heat oil in a large pot and stir in garlic.

Add pepper flakes and parsley. Pour in wine and bring to a simmer.

Add clams and cover pot. Cook about 6-8 minutes or until clams are all open. Discard any unopened clams.

Stir in linguine and toss to coat.

Serve immediately.

Lobster Medallions:1-1.5# Lobster tail (thawed)
1-cup dry vermouth
3-cup water
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1-cup heavy cream
2-teaspoon dry tarragon
1-stick butter, cut into pieces

Bring vermouth and water to low boil in steamer, add lobster tail in shell and steam for 20 minutes.

Remove lobster and wrap in damp cloth to retain heat, add shallots, tarragon and heavy cream to liquid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, reducing liquid to ½ .

Strain and add butter. Whisk to incorporate and place to side.

Remove lobster meat from the shell and slice into 1/4 inch thick medallions.

Place on medallions on warmed serving platter and drizzle sauce over and serve.

This is a thin sauce but may be thickened, if desired.

Fresh Lobster Spring Rolls with Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette:

1 each fresh lobster, about 1-1/2 lbs. cooked
1 head butter lettuce
1 ea. small carrot
1/2 ea. hothouse cucumber
20 ea. basil leaves
20 ea. cilantro sprigs
40 ea. garlic chives
20 ea. mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
15 Pcs. rice wrappers
1 / 4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 ea. egg yolk
1 tsp. water
1 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup cilantro, basil and mint leaves, loosely packed
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 ea. juice of lime
1 tbsp. minced fresh gingersalt and pepper

Prepare the Vinaigrette: Place the egg yolk and water into the workbowl of a food processor and turn it on. Slowly add half of the oil then add the herbs and ginger then puree until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the vinegar then add the remainder of the oil. Finish with the lime juice then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare the Rolls: Remove the lobster meat from the shell and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. Keep chilled. Peel the carrot and wash the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut both the carrot and cucumber into thin julienne and reserve.

Prepare the herb leaves by washing and spinning dry. Separate, wash and dry the leaves from the lettuce, discarding the dark green outer leaves. You will need one leaf for each roll. Lay the leaves down, concave side up on a clean work surface and assemble the remaining ingredients in each leaf starting with the herbs and finishing with the lobster and peanuts.

Heat a 5 qt. pot of water to a boil and add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar. Dip a rice wrapper into the water for a second or two then lay out onto a damp towel. After it becomes soft, place the lettuce cup into the center and roll into a cylinder, tucking the ends in before the final roll.

Chill well, then slice the hard ends off and cut each roll into six equal slices. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Halibut in Champagne Sauce

1 1/2 pounds halibut fillets
2/3 cup champagne
1 pound bay scallops
2/3 heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
salt and cayenne pepper
1/2 cup peanut oilfreshly ground white pepper
1 ounce salmon roe

Rinse the halibut fillets under cool water and pat them dry with paper towels.

In a large non-aluminum saucepan, bring the Champagne to a boil.

Add the scallops and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the scallops from the liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Boil the cooking liquid for about 15 minutes, or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Whisk in the whipping cream, then remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler or charcoal grill. Sprinkle salt and cayenne pepper on both sides of the fish fillets and brush with the peanut oil. Broil for 4 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm.

Reheat the sauce gently (Do not boil) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Ladle sauce onto 4 plates. Place the grilled fish in the center, dividing it evenly. Arrange the scallops in a large circle around the fish. Top the fish with a dab of salmon roe.

Blackened Grouper Serves1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Chef K’s Multipurpose seasoning
1 lb. red grouper fillets, skinned
4 tablespoons melted butter1 tablespoon oil, for frying

Combine flour and seasonings and mix well. Brush fillets with butter, then rub spice mixture all over fillets.Heat oil in iron frying pan over high heat until very hot.

Add fillets and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fish is opaque and beginning to flake when tested.

Serve immediately.

Notes: Start with a really hot frying pan. The fish will sizzle immediately and will result in a very crisp, dark coating.

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