Friday, 22 October 2010

Tilapia Rundown - A Sustainable Fish Dish from The Ocean Wise Cookbook

Are you.. Ocean Wise? We know that we are supposed to enjoy a diet rich in fish. We also know that our fish supply is dwindling rapidly - both freshwater and ocean fish - and we know that collectively, humans are to blame. What do we do now?
Okay, we recycle and we shop smart, and some of us are actually working on environmental clean-up projects - but most of us just want to get a (delicious) dinner on the table. And enjoy the health and taste benefits seafood has to offer. Without contributing to the problem. Help?

Ocean Wise is a nationwide conservation program created by the Vancouver Aquarium to educate and raise awareness about sustainable seafood. Canadian writer and editor Jane Mundy has compiled a book of recipes for sustainable seafood from Canada's top chefs and restaurants. Chefs including Michael Smith, (one of my favourites) Jamie Kennedy, and Rob Feenie. The Ocean Wise Cookbook lists species to shop for, what to avoid, when to buy fresh and when to buy frozen, what is best wild and what is best farmed. They offer sustainable alternatives for popular dishes, and even recipes for canned seafood.

With this book you will be able to enjoy a wide variety delicious seafood dishes and feel good about it. What could be better than that?

The Ocean Wise Cookbook
Seafood Recipes That Are Good For the Planet
edited by Jane Mundy
softcover, 328 pages

In our Kitchen Puppy test kitchen we made a famous Jamaican dish, rundown. We found some large, lovely and sustainable tilapia filets and enjoyed this savoury and comforting dish while outside the wind howled and cold rain hit the windows. So comforting! You can adjust the seasonings to your liking. We love Jamaican spice so we doubled them.

Tilapia Rundown
This rich fish stew is traditionally from Jamaica and is found at many eateries in this tropical paradise. The name derives from the fish being cooked in a seasoned coconut milk until it just falls apart or literally “runs down.” Serves 6

note: If you like spicy food, you can substitute a habanero or Thai chili for the jalapeño. If you  prefer milder food, use less jalapeño. Fully omitting the chili will alter the taste. Instead, choose one of the many mild chilies on the market, such as an ancho pepper.

Any kind of seafood will work with this dish. Think of it as a coconut milk–based stir-fry and have some fun with it. You can add a touch of honey or sugar if you like it sweet or a little chipotle pepper to give it a smoky finish. Lime leaves and ginger are also very flavourful additions.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
5 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) ground allspice
3 lb (1.5 kg) skinless tilapia fillets
4 cups (1 L) coconut milk
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan (or a wok will do nicely) over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeño, thyme, and allspice, and sauté gently for 1 minute. Add the tilapia fillets and coconut milk. Simmer the fish over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish is “run down,” stirring gently 2 or 3 times. Try not to break up the fish too much. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve
Set out six plates. Serve the tilapia with white rice and grilled vegetables.
Pairing suggestion: Any unoaked Chardonnay would be ideal. A premier cru Chablis would also be complementary. Tom Firth: Mt. Boucherie Estate Collection Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley, bc) or William Fèvre Chablis (France).

Kathleen Duncan
The Reef Caribbean Restaurant
Vancouver, B.C.