Sustainable sushi guides and the National Sushi Party
Today, three ocean conservation groups in the United States - the Blue Ocean Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium - will each be releasing sushi fish selection guides. They all seem to be printed guides that you have to order (small quibbles: Why not a downloadable PDF so people can start using it immediately? (It seems PDFs are available if you look hard enough. (thanks Avoir!)) Also, why 3 separate guides?) but if you are a sushi aficionado and are concerned about the sustainability of safety of the fish used as sushi neta, you may want to give one of them a look. See the press release here.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium (in Monterey, California), which as far as aquariums go is one of the coolest places on earth, already has a very extensive Seafood Watch database as well as regional (American only of course) seafood guides you can order, as well as a mobile phone site. They are also having a National Sushi Party event on Facebook. You can even sign up to be a Seafood Watch Advocate if you are politically inclined (though as of this writing, the page says they have run out of Advocate Kits.)
Having briefly worked at a sushi restaurant, I have doubts as to how much effect the advocacy/politicking method with have on most restauranteurs. But what would definitely work is voting with your money; if you really want to make a statement, stop scoffing down the tuna, yellowtail and eel, and be more adventurous and varied in your sushi selection.
I have repeated this several times on these pages: Sushi does not mean ‘something with fish’. (Do remember that a key to good sushi is the quality of the rice, as much as the neta that goes on/in it.) You could even have a very nice sushi meal by going fishless. When my mother first succumbed to stress-induced digestive system problems, she could literally only stomach vegetable-based sushi (and she managed a sushi restaurant!) but she didn’t feel she was missing anything. Here are some non-fish sushi neta:
- Tamagoyaki (sweet omelette). Having a sweet tamagoyaki at the end of a sushi meal is like dessert for me!
- Tsukemono (pickles) such as Chinese (nappa) cabbage, burdock, carrot, turnip etc.; also takuan (yellow dyed pickled daikon)
- Cucumber (as in a cucumber roll)
- Avocado (the toro of the vegetable kingdom; try avocado ‘sashimi’ with wasabi soy sauce!)
- Daikon radish sprouts
- Shiso leaves (one of my favorite handrolls is umeshiso, umeboshi with shiso)
- Onion, green onion
- Dried gourd strips (kanpyou, used in kanpyou maki)
- Aburaage, as in inarizushi
- Meat products - raw meat (a la carpaccio), ham etc… anything soft, rather fatty and salty. Also cheese. Rare to find these at a sushi restaurant, but at home…why not?
What’s your favorite sushi?
…besides the usual suspects of tuna, fatty tuna, yellowtail, salmon, eel? Let us know what it is, and why!