Our roster of guest chefs in the Petits Chefs kitchen/ lab kicked off this week with the fabulous Ned Bell, Ocean Wise Executive Chef. Ned also founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 as a way of raising awareness and advocating for for responsible seafood choices while highlighting the importance of healthy oceans, lakes and rivers. He launched this commitment with an 8,700km bike ride (!!!) across Canada, staging dozens of awareness building events along the way. His commitment to seafood stewardship and educating individuals to make a commitment to sustainable seafood has continued ever since.
In September 2017, Ned was awarded the SeaWeb Seafood Champion for Advocacy Award for his advocacy through leadership, innovation, vision and activism. He is part of Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and works tirelessly with sustainable seafood organizations OceanWise, SeaChoice and Marine Stewardship Council. As the father of three sons, Fin, Max and Jet, Ned is dedicated to inspiring Canadians to become part of the solution for healthier oceans for today’s children and generations to come and I couldn’t think of a better guest to work with the boys cooking up some fish with a side of sustainable seafood education!
Ned is also the author (with Valerie Howes) of a new cookbook, Lure: Sustainable Recipes from the West Coast, a celebration of sustainable fish recipes. The book features wonderful seafood recipes and teaches us about the preservation of our oceans, lakes and rivers.
- Did you know seafood, like fruits and vegetables has seasons?
- Are you confused when it comes to choosing seafood responsibly?
- Not sure what “sustainable” really means in the context of fish and seafood?
This is the book for you! As a relative novice when it comes to fish and seafood, I appreciate all the practical advice in the book like how to choose seafood, how to store it and handle/ cook it. There are also good tips for helping you make better choices when it comes to seafood such as eating smaller quantities of better quality product (something my own household has committed to a while ago). The book features recipes for White Fish, Fatty Fish, Shellfish and Sea Greens and offers choices you might not have otherwise considered (lesser known fish and shellfish). It’s a beautiful looking book of restaurant-quality dishes but, at the heart of it, this is a book for the home cook who wants to learn how to eat better fish and how to prepare it to make it shine. Ned says:
As an excellent source of protein, sustainable seafood can be the real fast food in our homes. We need to feed our families more clean, healthy and delicious ingredients from our lakes, oceans and rivers. Lure will help you do that.
I chose a recipe for Ned to make with the boys based simply on time (we only have an hour!), but many of the recipes would be very kid-friendly (to make). We went with Halibut with Spring Peas and Spinach Pea Purée and I sourced some absolutely stunning Pacific Halibut from my local fishmonger, the fabulous De La Mer.
De La Mer is our “local” and both Neil and I are regulars there (more Neil than me, as he will often buy a few pieces of fish and bbq or cook them for his lunches through the week). We love that the team is committed to educating their customers about sustainable practices, how the fish are caught and raised, where they are from and how to prepare them. It’s a complete experience and it’s a pleasure to shop there because of how knowledgeable all the staff are. In any case, the Pacific halibut was deemed “magnificent” by one of my Petits Chefs and he was not wrong. This is fish, done right.
Ned spoke to the boys about his work with Oceanwise, the health of our oceans and sustainable choices in seafood. He taught them how to choose fish and how to slice it (the basics to ensure a great dish!). Then we got to work. In the space of around 45 minutes, the boys chopped, sliced, stirred, measured, tasted, sautéed and plated up what I consider a restaurant-quality looking fish dish…
The boys were very good about letting this fish sit (they, like me, have a tendency to play with their food as it cooks which we all know slows the process and sometimes means things don’t cook properly). Fish needs a good amount of time to cook so that it forms that golden-looking crust. I was working with the boys on the purée and peas on the other side of the room but when I went over to check what was going on, I was amazed…
Not pictured: Boys (and their parents) eating this with their fingers in the lab, in the carpark and in their cars. It was SO good. The fish honestly melted in your mouth, like butter… The flavours of the greens really made the fish sing. It was the perfect dish for the boys, some of whom “maybe” didn’t really like fish. I think after this session with Ned, noone’s going to ever say that again.
Of course, having excellent quality fish helps. As the boys saw from the pricetag on the fish, eating sustainable can be a little more expensive than if you don’t. Ned’s advice? Eat smaller quantities of better quality. Choose lesser-known options (ask your Oceanwise fishmonger) but above all, ask questions. Smell your fish (to see if it’s fresh). Ask to look at the fish before they fillet it. Ned’s advice is valuable for the next generation as it is they who may well decide the future health of our oceans.
About Oceanwise: The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is our assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 700 Ocean Wise partners with thousands of locations across Canada, the Ocean Wise seafood program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.
Canadian readers: Win a copy of Lure! Details: http://bit.ly/WinLureCookbook
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “Lure” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.