Home' Nova National : November 2009 Contents TO EAT a fish is a powerful and profound
thing. On one hand, it is probably one of
the best sources of protein and, critically,
a key source of the long chain Omega 3
Essential Fatty Acids DHA (Docoshexeonic
Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). On
the other hand, it is to take a life. Now while
I don't stand in the vegan camp that believes
in not taking or eating any animal life -- I
believe all eating is to take a life of some form
-- I do believe that when life is taken (any
life, even fruit and vegetables), it should be
honoured. One could argue that this is the
mark of a civilised society. We honour the
fish we choose to eat by choosing fish that
are sustainable, local, seasonal and
Around the world, and right here on
our doorstep in Australia, our fish stocks
are in serious trouble, with many predicting
some fish will face extinction within our
lifetime. The seafood you choose will have
a profound and far reaching impact on the
future of our oceans, rivers and earth. Three
quarters of the world's oceans are officially
over-exploited or fished up to their limit.
Scientists have also warned there is now
only 10% of our large, predatory fish (tuna,
swordfish, marlin) and ground fish (cod,
halibut, skates and flounder) left.
I know there are many who feel farming
is the future, and the way we can save our
oceans -- I am not one of them. Farming is
putting more stress on our oceans and has
too many nutrients for our waterways. But
also on the deeper level of ethics, I feel it
disconnects us from the consequences of
our actions. We simply cannot overfish the
ocean, and when it can no longer give us
the fish we demand, turn to another way of
raising that fish that in so many ways is just
as destructive as the original action. This
includes, but isn't restricted to, sea cage
and prawn pond aquaculture. Thus, I am no
fan of salmon. This beautiful, majestic fish
is not native to our southern hemisphere
-- all salmon here is farmed (even smoked
salmon). Now most of this farming is with
Sea Cage Aquaculture, a highly destructive
process. There are many, many issues with
farmed fish. These include (but are not
● Pollution of the environment and of the
ocean -- dissolved and solid fish waste
from sea cages pollute coastal waterways
● Weakening the DNA of wild fish as farmed
● Disease, infection and parasites with a
potential to transfer disease from caged
fish to wild fish
● Depletion of fish stocks, disruption of
the ocean and environmental ecology for
fish meal (eg according to the Australian
Marine Conservation Society, it takes up
to 12kg of wild caught feed grade fish
to produce 1kg of tuna, and up to 4kg
of wild fish to produce 1kg of sea caged
● Finally and by no mean least, feeding fish
grain (and soy), colours and chemicals.
To Eat a Fish
See our website www.novamagazine.com.au
for more of Jude's fabulous wholefood recipes
© NOVA NOVEMBER 2009
Now, while I know there are some better
methods being developed for farming
salmon -- fish swimming against the current
in more open waters to develop better
muscle and tone -- it is still farmed, and
those farmed fish still have to eat fish meal
from somewhere (they're carnivores), still
have to be given antibiotics, and still have to
have colour added. There is some Organic
Salmon being imported from New Zealand,
but I can't help but think this is a grand
arrogance on our part. We catch our
Australian "Salmon" (an unattractive thing,
but delicious when eaten freshly caught) and
turn it into garden fertiliser and pet food,
and import a prettier thing from elsewhere.
We still have plenty of delicious fish that
meet the criteria of local (not imported),
sustainable, high Omega 3, seasonal and
unfarmed. The thing is, they are not poster
fish that are easy to use and sweet tasting.
They are often, but not always, the oily,
strong tasting poorer cousins such as
Herring and Mullet. The upside is they are
cheap, and in many cases, very cheap. It's
incredibly difficult to know and work out
what fish to use. I use the recommendations
of the Australian Marine Conservation
Society (www.amcs.org) though some
would argue they are too black and white.
According to one scientist (West Australian)
I spoke to with years of experience on this
issue, it's not so much about what fish it is,
but from where (the fishery) it comes.
FISH FINGERS WITH TARTARE SAUCE
Fundamentally though, these are the
more sustainable fish: Bream, Calamari (also
Cuttlefish, Octopus and Squid), Flathead,
Leatherjacket, Mullet, Mulloway, Trevally
and Whiting. Now that is a delicious list,
and offers you lots of wonderful options.
My favourites are the Red Mullet, Black
Bream (very high Omega 3) and Mulloway.
Mulloway, in particular, is a good option for a
light tasting fish.
To sum up:
● Avoid farmed fish. In the case of "organic"
and plant eating fish, you may need to
even track down the farmer and ask him
their food source (especially if you want
to avoid soy). You might not be all that
thrilled to discover they are generally
eating grains, albeit organic.
● Avoid canned tuna wherever possible. Wild
caught and sustainable salmon is available
in cans (imported into Australia) and from
time to time are great in an emergency.
● Avoid the larger predatory fish, particularly
shark, tuna and swordfish.
● Where possible, ask you fishmonger
where the fish comes from. And if he can't
tell you or does not respect your question,
look for another.
To eat a fish is a wonderful thing, delicious
and nourishing, and perfect in the upcoming
warmer weather. But let's care where it
comes from, and give thanks for the life it
gives to us.
This is such a delicious way to have sh, and quick to
prepare. Any leftover sauce will keep for a week or so
in the fridge, and is also delicious with the addition of
a nely chopped hardboiled egg and makes a brilliant
dip with raw vegetables.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon nely chopped gherkins
1 teaspoon nely chopped capers
2-3 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
1-2 teaspoons nely chopped herbs parsley,
a drop or two of Agave nectar or raw sugar if
2 llets red mullet, skin on approx 160gm
1 & ½ tablespoons true arrowroot starch
½ cup sour dough breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dulse akes
good pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut our
Coconut oil for frying
To make the tartare sauce, combine all ingredients
together and stir well. Taste, and adjust avours as
Run your ngers carefully over the llet and remove
any bones. Cut each llet into 4 pieces, or sizes to
Place the arrowroot in a small at bowl.
Beat the egg in a small bowl.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, dulse, salt, coconut
our in a small, at bowl.
Dip the sh in the arrowroot, then in the egg and
nally into the breadcrumb mix.
Add enough oil to generously coat the base of a
small frypan. When hot, but not at all smoking
or rippling, add as many pieces of sh that will
t without crowding the pan and cook for 2-3
minutes each side. A lot depends on how thick
the sh is.
The best heat for frying the sh depends a lot on
the thickness of the sh. If the llets are very thin,
the heat will need to be higher to ensure the coating
is golden by the time the sh is cooked. If they are
thicker, the heat can be a little low, as the coating
will have more time in which to brown. If the heat is
too low, the coating will be soggy, rather than lovely
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