Crazy for Seafood!
Food For Thought
With Chef Tim Tibbitts
We live on an island, surrounded by water, with an abundance of food available for us to go catch. For generations, the original inhabitants and many current inhabitants made their living or fed their families from the sea. So this week we pay homage to the sea and everything in it. Seafood basically has five different categories of food: fish, roe, crustaceans, mollusks and echinoderms.
Fish: The myriad of fish species available makes seafood one of the most exciting dishes to serve, providing a great variety of flavors, ingredients and new ways to cook. From salty seaweed to sweet scallops, the oceans give us an irreplaceable, renewable source of food and nutrition, essential for healthy eating. And for some, a reliable source of fish is essential for food security and survival, not a luxury.
Choosing certified sustainable seafood allows you to support well managed fisheries and help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the amazing choice of seafood we know today.
Who eats fish?
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization:
About 75 percent of fish caught is used for human consumption. The remainder is converted into fish-meal and oil used mainly for animal feed and for farmed fish.
About one billion people, largely in developing countries, rely on fish as their primary animal protein source. For example, while fish provide slightly over seven percent of animal protein in North and Central America, in Asia they provide over 26 percent.
In general, people in developing countries and especially those in coastal areas are much more dependent on fish as a staple food than those in the developed world.
As a continent, Asia has the highest consumptions of seafood, combining high per-person consumptions with large populations.
As the world's population grows, this demand for fish for food is expected to continue to grow.
Based on present levels of consumption and projected population growth, by 2010, demand reached 120 million tonnes a year, a substantial increase from the 75-85 million tonnes of the mid-1990s.
Safeguarding seafood for future generations
If we want to safeguard food security for people around the world today, and let future generations enjoy the rich choice of fresh, healthy seafood that we know today, we need to ensure our oceans remain productive. The best way to do this is to recognize and reward sustainable fishing, not to exclude fish from our diets. To stop eating seafood would deprive fishers of their livelihoods. It would also mean that you, and other consumers, would miss the opportunity to influence companies that buy and sell fish towards sourcing more environmentally responsible seafood. And it would mean that we would be depriving ourselves of all the benefits from eating seafood.
Instead, choosing certified sustainable seafood allows you to enjoy eating fish in the knowledge that you have made a positive choice to support well managed fisheries. These fisheries are pioneering new ways to conserve the marine environment. By supporting them through your regular shopping decisions you send a clear message back, encouraging more retailers to stock sustainably-sourced seafood and more fisheries to switch to sustainable practices.
Roe: Roe or hard roe is the fully ripe interior ovaries or egg masses of fish and certain marine animals, such as shrimp, scallop and sea scamp. As a seafood, roe is used both as a cooked ingredient in many dishes and as a raw ingredient. Caviar is a name for processed, salted roe devoted as a specialty.
Ikura is a salmon roe with large reddish-orange individual spheres. Since salmon eggs are also used as bait, first-time sushi eaters may be taken aback when served ikura. The name comes from the Russian, "ikra". Ikura consists of salmon eggs which are preserved in salt. Salmon ovaries preserved in salt as a entire unit are called "sujiko', while salmon eggs preserved in salt as single eggs are called "Ikura". Even if its sodium content is high, Ikura is an outstanding source of protein and iron.
Caviar is the processed, salted roe of certain species of fish, most conspicuously the sturgeon (black caviar) and the salmon (red caviar). It is commercially marketed universally as a delicacy and is eaten as an embellishment with hors d'oeuvres.
Lumpsuckers or lumpfish are mostly small scorpaeniform marine fish of the family Cyclopteridae. They are found in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific oceans. The greatest number of species is found in the North Pacific. The roe of Cyclopterus lumpus, known as the stenbider (literally "stone biter") in Danish, is used extensively in Danish cuisine. The roe is also used as a delicious and affordable alternative to the sometimes wildly costly caviar made by sturgeon.
The Shad species inhabits a wide range of habitats, and many of them are migratory. There are also a few land-locked forms, one from Killarney in Ireland and two from lakes in northern Italy. There are species native to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, as well as the Persian Gulf.
Tobiko is the Japanese word for the flying fish roe used to create certain types of sushi. Tobiko is sometimes used as an ingredient in California rolls. The eggs are small, ranging from 0.5mm - 0.8mm. By comparison, tobiko is larger than masago (capelin roe), but smaller than ikura (salmon roe). Plain tobiko has a red-orange color, a mild smoky/salty taste, and a crunchy texture. Sometimes tobiko is colored with wasabi (green), ginger (pale orange) or squid's ink (black). Masago is commonly substituted for tobiko due to its similar outer shell and flavor.
Crustaceans: With over 30,000 species including the familiar shrimps, crabs, crayfish and barnacles as well as many smaller and less well-known animals, crustaceans are such a large and varied group that it is often hard to see how all the animals are related.
Plankton is the drifting life of the oceans. Most planktonic animals are very small but extremely numerous and form an extremely important part of marine food webs. The most common planktonic animals are the small crustaceans known as copepods. They are probably the most numerous animal group in the world. Together with copepods, other small crustaceans such as water fleas combine to make this varied group a very important part of the animal plankton.
All crustaceans have a body covered with a protective shell composed of a horny substance called chiton. The outer skeleton is not continuous but made up of divided sections called somites. Crustaceans have a number of jointed legs, two pairs of antennae and sometimes a pair of 'nippers'. The body is divided into three parts: a head, a middle region (thorax) and a tail region (abdomen). Often the head and thorax are joined together and covered by a single shell called a carapace.
Crustaceans vary in the habitat in which they live. Some live in the ocean, some in fresh water and some on the land. Many crustaceans are nocturnal and spend the day hidden in a burrow, buried in the sand, or resting in a crevice.
Mollusks: The phylum Mollusca is the largest and most diverse phylum of animals next to arthropods. Mollusks can be found in nearly every ecosystem on earth, from high, barren mountains to grassy plains, lakes, rivers and in all seas and oceans. There are nearly 100,000 species of mollusks identified today, with new species being encountered and named every year as new discoveries are made in ocean depths and tropical rainforests.
The body of a mollusk is generally composed of the shell and the fleshy, living part. The fleshy parts of a mollusk can be further divided into the foot and the visceral mass. The foot is a distinctive molluscan feature, adapted in a variety of ways for locomotion. The visceral mass includes the organs for digestion, circulation, reproduction, and respiration.
The visceral mass also includes two external flaps of tissue called the mantle, which secretes the calcareous shell and encloses a mantle cavity. The fluid in the mantle cavity, which in aquatic mollusks is continually replaced with water from the outside, carries away excess water, ions and wastes, and helps circulate nutrients and oxygen. Another structure unique to mollusks, found in most groups except bivalves and a few others is the radula. In most forms the radula is a rasping organ near the mouth variously modified for special feeding techniques.
These two structures the mantle and radula are found in Mollusca and nowhere else in the animal kingdom.
Most taxonomists now recognize eight classes of mollusks, based mainly on differences in the foot and shell. These differences are usually quite apparent, making it easy to identify on sight the class to which a mollusk belongs. Only the following four main classes will be discussed in this guide:
Gastropoda: This largest and most successful class of mollusks contains 35,000 living species including snails, periwinkles, conches, whelks, limpets and sea slugs.
Bivalvia: Members of this class such as clams, cockles, mussels, oysters and scallops, are an important food source for humans as well as for gastropods, fish, and shore birds.
Cephalopoda: The most highly organized group of mollusks includes squids, octopuses, cuttlefish, and nautiluses.
Polyplacophora: Members of this class are commonly referred to as chitons. These rock-clinging marine mollusks are abundant on rocky coasts throughout most of the world.
Interaction with humans and other animals
Mollusks are important to humans as well as other animals as food. Some shells are a major source of calcium for some birds. The consumption of mollusks goes back centuries. Indeed, humans found a way to use oysters to increase the food supply indirectly: The crushed shells attract micro-organisms that kill the nematodes that are agricultural pests. Mollusks also nourish humans culturally. Rare and beautiful shells have been prized throughout history and many are still extremely valuable to collectors. In some early cultures mollusk shells served as money.
Echinoderms: The most interesting of the sea life genres, and containing the fewest of edible varieties Echinoderms consist of "spiny" animals such as Sea Urchins, starfish and sea cucumbers. Although the edible part of the urchin could actually fall under the roe section of this categorization and sea cucumbers are really only eaten by far east Asian cultures.
This Sunday I'll be continuing our educational series featuring seafood and the secrects to making it successfully. Make your reservations to join us by calling 373-4363 or email email@example.com. Hope to "sea" you there!
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