Monday, May 9, 2011

Fish-A-Tarians: Eco-Tips for Eating Fish

Are you a flexitarian, omnivore, vegetarian+fish? I grew up around fish, I adore mussels, haddock, halibut and lobster. It would be difficult not to, living in a province like Nova Scotia, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean except for a tiny little bit of land connecting us to New Brunswick.

If you are a fish eater, there's a couple of things to keep in mind in order to assure the fish you eat nourishes yourself, the planet and the local economy- all at once!

General fishy tips:
  1. Consider where you live. How far away is the ocean from you? Cuz that's how far that salt-water fish filet has traveled... 'Fresh' really is relative. For example, I was shocked that most restaurants in the interior of British Columbia actually sold 'Atlantic' mussels, proudly displaying they were from PEI. Now... take a quick look at the map to see just how far they traveled (over 6000 km!). Pair that with the fact that BC actually has some pretty yummy pacific mussels... wtf?
  2. Try to keep it to your coast. Atlantic gal? Support Atlantic fish. The closer the fish exited the water, the fresher it will be, the better it will taste and you're putting your money right back in your community.
  3. Don't have an ocean near you? Maybe you should consider purchasing fresh water fish, or leaving salt water sustainably fished filets for the special treats.
  4. Frozen really doesn't taste better. If you're visiting an ocean-y spot and your only experience was frozen fish, please give fresh fish a try. You'd be shocked just how yummy it can be.
Pacific sustainable fish (according to SeaChoice and Mr. David Suzuki)
  1. Sablefish: Pacific or Alaska that are trap or bottom longline caught. Avoid: Trawl caught or bottom longline from Washington, California and Oregon. Sablefish have been known to live up to 113 years! Check out Mr. Suzuki's site for recipes and more fishing info.
  2. Spot Prawns: Caught in Canadian Pacific by trap. Avoid: Spot Prawns caught in the U.S. or Tiger Prawns. Yummy recipes and fishing info!
  3. Sardines: Canadian or US Pacific- purse seine caught. Avoid: Atlantic (US & Canada) caught by mid-water trawl or purse seine. As icky as I find them, lots of people like sardines... so sardine lovers check out this extra info!
  4. Albacore Tuna: caught by troll or pole in Canadian and US Pacific waters. Avoid: caught by pelagic longline. They can swim up to 80 km/h! Dr. Suzuki definitely has some great tips!
  5. Dungeness Crab: trap caught in Canada, Oregon and Washington. Avoid: trap caught in Atlantic Canada or Alaska. These lovey-crabs embrace for several days during mating. More racy info here!
  6. Pacific Cod: Caught in Alaska by bottom longline, jig or trap. Avoid: Atlantic or Pacific waters other than Alaska. These babies are like rabbits; one female can spawn up to 5 million eggs per birthing! wow. More info right over here.
Some Atlantic Fishies (Mr Suzuki really isn't that helpful here):
  1. Haddock: If you live in Nova Scotia you have access to "Off the Hook" CSF (Community Supported Fisheries) where haddock (and hake and pollock) are caught by bottom hook and line: sustainable and a bit more pricey (but worth it!). Make sure you look for hook and line haddock for the best choice. Otherwise it's "dragger" caught which trawls on the bottom of the ocean tearing up our ocean floors and catching so many other fish in their nets as byproducts. See my recipe below for fool-proof delicious haddock!
  2. Bass/Striped: look for hook and line striped bass.
  3. Lobster: Mmmmm. As most lobster in Canada and the US is caught in Nova Scotia and Maine, the closer you are to these two places the better. American? Look for the "Caught in Maine" tag that has been implemented to avoid Maine buyers purchasing Nova Scotian lobsters and selling them as "Maine" lobsters. (yep, that happened!). Check out my Lobster post on some details of lobster fishing and the comment section for further insight.
  4. Northern Shrimp: Look for coldwater trap caught. Avoid warm water farmed or wild.
  5. Swordfish: harpoon caught. Avoid harpoon caught in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, International Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: management and numbers are not as good as they are in Canada. This is some crazy kind of fishing. My brother spent a few summers, it involves weeks on the ocean with waves that rival the boat itself. Cahones.
  1. Farmed oysters: look for suspended culture systems. Avoid wild oysters caught by scallop or dredging. Oysters a like miniature water filters and uber sensitive to coastal pollution.
  2. Closed Containment Farmed Salmon: Avoid farmed salmon raised in open net pens. Closed containment takes care of many of the threats posed by farmed salmon on the wild population!
  3. Farmed clams: or wild clams hand raked in the US. These pretties help absorb carbon dioxide by absorbing it in their shells. Neat!
  4. Farmed Mussels: mmmm. I have discovered that the best way to eat mussels are the spicy/curry style. Way better than butter and wine. Trust me.
If I didn't name one of your fav fishies- check out SeaChoice and give'er a search!

Lisa's Yummy Jammy Haddock:
Two hook and line caught fresh non-frozen (if possible) filets.
1 jar of "hot pepper jam" (Haligonians, Pat's Preserves Hot Pepper Jelly is Delicious! Available at the SeaPort Farmer's Market).

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
Place filets in a glass casserole dish. Empty the Hot Pepper Jelly on top of filets. 

Cook for 10 minutes ONLY.

That's it! You should have delicious, moist perfectly cooked haddock with a little bit of a kick!

Lisa's Tips on Cooking Lobsters:
  • Steam in a ginormous pot with only a couple of inches of water.
  • Add enough sea salt (or regular salt) to make the water taste like ocean water. Trust me, the lobsters will taste better because of it.
  • Please steam them live... killing them prior to steaming could release some random toxin and make the meat inedible. The myth of lobsters screaming? A myth. I would know, I've had lobsters at home my entire life. Seriously, we used to race them on the kitchen floor.
  • Invest in some sort of cracking mechanism for the shucking. Or a very nice large knife. There's a sweet spot on the claws (mid claw) that with a good whack and a slight wrist twist you should be able to open them.
  • A mason jar is the perfect tool for rolling out the yummy yummy legs. My favourite part!
  • Only crazies eat the TomAlly... or fishermen. 
  • With the tail in one hand, facing up and a fork in the other, facing down, go in and pull the meat out. Make sure to peel the outer part off and clean out the poop trail. No one wants to eat slices with a little surprise of poo in the middle. Ew.

Lobster chowder including only lobster meat (fried in a pan w butter and garlic post steaming) and potatoes (boiled in small chopped bits) adding cream or milk and butter is the best way to enjoy lobster IMHO. Shucking is just tourist-y and way too much work. :)

How about it? Any fish-a-tarians out there?


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. i skipped most and went down to the lobster portion...god dang i miss lobster...tourist or not, i love a steamed lobster or crab with garlic butter and friends and gettin' messy at the beach :)

  2. I like to call myself a lovetarian since I am vegan, yet still eat fish, don't eat gluten and try and stay away from processed foods. It's what I love I guess. This fish information is very helpful. Thank you for sharing. My dad was a fisherman so I grew up eating fresh fish from the baby blue. I am very hesitant now purchasing it in the store.

  3. I want to come eat lobster with you. Seriously. It's on my list.

  4. There are some great tips here, Eco Yogini! Thank you for helping to promote sustainable seafood. The David Suzuki Foundation has produced a handy, wallet sized Shopper's Guide of our top 10 sustainable seafood picks: for your convenience. Keep the great info coming!

  5. As a Prince Edward Islander, I, too, adore fish - lobster, mussels, scallops, mackerel . . . oh, almost any fish.

    But my favourite way to eat any of them is just plain with a little butter. No sauces or anything else to "complement" or "disguise" or "anything else" the flavour. If the fish is fresh, IMHO, it needs nothing other than a little butter - perhaps some salt and pepper - to complement the flavour.

  6. Good gracious, that's extensive. I've been turning my diet around in the last few months, though I don't think I could ever leave seafood either. Your list will definitely help the in long-haul.

  7. Thanks for such an in depth and
    helpful post.
    I really admire the effort and time you put into your blog.
    Really a great read!Bravo :)

  8. I haven't eaten fish since I was about 8....until we attempted the cleanse. My excuse was always that I don't like the taste of seafood....which I thought was true.....then hub made salmon cakes....and now I think I'm a salmon convert....good thing its readily available here and hub just got a fishing license to boot.. :)

  9. I have never been able to eat lobster or crab, mostly because of the way they are cooked. They may not scream, but I don't for a moment believe they don't feel anything. I must be the only person in the world who feels that way - except maybe for vegans. I'm always amazed that I never see a comment about that anywhere. People will shun caged chicken and feedlot cattle but happily toss live sea creatures into boiling water. And I'm not judging - just frankly baffled. Am I crazy or something? Is there something I'm missing?


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.