Sustainable Seafood Cuisine
By William Kovel
Lemon sole with fennel, lobster and vermouth butter
|Even the reclaimed barn wood at Catalyst’s bar is sustainabl|
To me, high-quality seafood is about sourcing great fish that are sustainable and cooking them beautifully. I am definitely not alone in this. Many great chefs are taking this approach because it helps keep plate costs down, and there are a lot of great fish that should get more play. Local chefs, including Michael Leviton of Lumière and Area Four and Peter McCarthy of Evoo, are using fish like sardines and bluefish, which is the only wild, sustainable fish from New England that has good numbers at the moment. Outside of New England, chefs are doing the same thing—Le Bernardin in New York City is a great example.
There are many voices out there, some saying stocks of a particular fish are depleted and others saying the stocks are healthy. You have to figure it out by knowing where the fish come from, who is catching them and through what methods: Longline is a sustainable practice, trawling is okay, but dragging is disruptive to the sea floor. Anyone can create an amazing dish out of bluefin tuna or swordfish, but I won’t serve them because neither is sustainable. For bluefin, you just slice it raw, drizzle on some ponzu sauce and you’ve created a high-end dish. But it’s taking those noncelebrity fish, such as blackfish, hake and blue cod, and making them sexy that is the higher art. That’s what we do at Catalyst. Take bluefish: If you catch and treat it well, it tastes fabulous. It’s not fishy like some people think. Yes, it’s oily, but when you bread and panfry it and serve it with a mustard sauce and braised cabbage, it’s a completely different experience— and it’s awesome. Catalyst, 300 Technology Square, 617-576-3000; catalystrestaurant.com
photographs by joel benjamin