Each new addition to the list of endangered oceanic species makes the decision about which of them to eat more treacherous. Is cod still a no-go? What if it's longline-caught Pacific cod? Or can salmon ever be farmed sustainably and how do we tell the good from the bad? The Vancouver Aquarium and their Ocean Wise programme has set out to guide consumers by answering these types of questions. Between their list of species and the certification programme that recognises producers, resellers, and restaurants they hope to take the guesswork out of these decisions.
To launch Ocean Wise month an event was held at Mildred's Temple Kitchen on November 1 that featured cooking demonstrations from three chef or vendor partners. They were: Lirad Kligman, partner at Neptuno Oysters; Chef Kristin Donovan, co-founder of Hooked Inc. the Toronto fish store that recently opened a second shop; and Chef Taylor McMeekin, chef du cuisine at MLSE's Air Canada Club.
Each demonstration was designed to illustrate that both restaurant and home kitchens can keep to the approved list of seafood without compromising flavour.
As part of their shucking demo Neptuno showcased two appetizer-style takes on Kumamoto oysters (one with arctic berry jam and micro basil and the other with uni mousse and citrus). During his introduction Kligman talked about how Kumamotos (and oysters in general) are a good representation of "merroir" the ocean-bound equivalent of terroir.
From the team at Hooked we were given two very different takes on how to prepare local lake fish. First up was smoked whitefish rillettes—a preparation which works well with with that type of fish because it has more fat than most freshwater species. Next, Donovan took us through the easy (and impressive) process for preparing pickerel in the steamy, parchment package that the French call "en papillote".
McMeekin demonstrated a basketed trout preparation that removes the spine and rib cage while leaving the belly intact. He then stuffed the Kolapore Springs trout (donated through Hooked) with his house-made fennel sausage and Kozlik's XXX mustard and then used cooked leeks to tie the package together.
The Chowder Chowdown is the showcase fundraising event for Ocean Wise in Toronto. It will be held at 7 p.m. on November 21 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Based on experience from past years, the opportunity to taste chowder offerings from so many top-flight chefs has given me a sense that this event offers really good value for the $45 ticket price.
One change for this year is that Ocean Wise has switched beer partners from Mill Street, a local craft brewer, to the multinational Molson-Coors and their subsidiary brands: Rickards, Creemore, and Granville Island. Each chowder will be paired with a different beer.
Tickets for the Chowder Chowdown are on sale here.