Now we've gotten past opening night, everyone has relaxed a little and it's nice to see the team down at Pussey Liquor start to gel. If you haven't visited us down in East Dulwich we'd very much like to see your faces, familiar or not, but more importantly to have a chance to share our passion for good food with you. My curiously titled blog post this week is somewhat of a curveball - there will be plenty of time to answer questions and give updates on running a kitchen, and frankly R is better with practicalities - I just want to talk to you guys about fish...
As with all food productions systems recently, fish has come under heavy scrutiny - the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign (http://www.fishfight.net/), the Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace all actively campaign, and rightly so, for the improvement of the fishing supply chain. As a chef it is always important to consider what produce goes onto your menu. All restaurants, be they small 15 seaters or huge brasseries, have a vote in the way food is produced, and by feeding volumes of people, that vote has some sway and should not be wasted.
You may be wondering what my small sustainability rant has to do with you or me or Smoke & Salt, but step through the doors of Pussey Liquor and you will notice our only two fish dishes use farmed fish. This will generally illicit one of two reactions - 'oh it's farmed, it can't be very nice' or for those with a small kernel of knowledge in the matter - 'oh it's farmed, isn't that really bad for the environment?'. It is a sad truth that sometimes people's reactions are limited by their understanding or knowledge on a subject and so I really write this blog post to enlighten our diners, and readers, to some of the amazing aquatic produce that we get to cook with:
Chalkstream Foods Farmed River Trout
Chalkstream Foods based in Hampshire, UK, produces some of the best trout I have encountered. The fish are some of the finest specimens I have had the pleasure to not only cook with, but also to eat. Produced with run offs from A1 class 'gin-clear' waters, the trout have a favourable feed to weight ratio, are healthy and active and have none of the 'muddyness' that can be present in the flesh of less active and healthy farmed river fish. For more information on the location and technicalities of the farm do not hesitate to contact Arthur Voelcker, our Chalkstream Guru who will be more than happy to answer any questions/provide more information - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halibut farming on the island of Gigha is a fairly new operation - having only started 20 or so years ago, it is still a relatively small producer of fish, only producing around 200 tonnes. They have won many awards for sustainability in that time and their method of aquaculture is one that cannot be faulted - seawater is pumped into land-based flat-bottomed tanks and therefore does not contaminate any surrounding marine wildlife as with other fish farms (salmon farms are a good example of this contamination that can occur). It takes a full 4 years to produce a Halibut big enough for sale and the sheer dedication and research that has gone into Gigha means that we are proud to serve their delicious Halibut on our menu.
There is so much information out there on the internet about fish, fishing methods, sustainability and so forth but if you can filter through the information and find the producers that are creating healthy, happy and tasty fish at no cost or in some cases even minus costs to the natural environment - surely that is the way forward for chefs and diners to enjoy their favourite fish dishes. A.
*Bonus Video - one of my favourite Chefs Dan Barber or Blue Hill speaking about his love of fish: