If you are what you eat, then after this past week traveling in New England, I would be some type of weird, hybrid sea monster. Seriously, I really think we ate a lobster a day (which, might I add, is a lovely pairing with avocado!). Add to that all the fried clams and fresh fish we enjoyed and I would pretty much be a walking nightmare. When in Rome...
At home too, I've been trying to eat seafood more regularly. When I started my business 2 years ago with, ummm, about 2 weeks of financial planning, I definitely had to be mindful of my food dollar. So for protein, it was beans, beans, some nuts, cheese, and eggs, then more beans. It definitely shows in the recipes I posted around that time!
Now I try to plan in seafood about twice a week. Usually one recipe is something made with canned fish, like my fancy tuna salad, a pasta sauce, like my puttansca or garlic-anchovy oil (do it!), or just a snack of spicy mustard and sardines on whole grain crackers. Then once I week, I pick up some type of fresh fish to prepare for dinner. Usually it's salmon, but lately I've been trying more options.
Sustainability is something that's really important to me. It's one of my main considerations when deciding what to eat, right up there with taste and my desire to feel good. With seafood (and other animal foods), it's especially important. Marine environments are being irreparably damaged by irresponsible and destructive fishing practices. Overfishing is a huge problem and somewhere between 70-85% of the worlds fisheries are being fished at or beyond maximum production, or have already crashed. Many fishing practices are harmful to the marine environment as well, damaging the seafloor and resulting in high levels of by catch, which often gets thrown away uneaten.
When I'm not purchasing local seafood from one of the smaller grocers around here, I use Monterrey Bay Aquarium's seafood watch app to figure out the best options. Actually, I remember my first introduction to sustainable seafood at Monterrey Bay Aquarium itself when I visited back in 6th grade. They've certainly been on the issue a long time! Another great place to shop for seafood is Whole Foods. They've really set the bar with seafood labeling and purchasing practices.
Wild Pacific cod is a great sustainable choice. It's also quite budget friendly as well, especially compared to other sustainable options, which can get quite pricy! I cooked Alaskan halibut for my parents when I was visiting them a few weeks ago and it was $50 for the three of us! Whoops! Glad pops was picking up that bill ;)
Cod has a very mild flavor and while I prefer more flavorful, fatty fish, like salmon or trout, cod takes on other flavors really well without being overpowering. This Greek tomato sauce spiked with lots of olives, oregano and white wine soaks into the fish as it braises! Plus, braising is a pretty fool proof method for cooking fish, says the girl who has overcooked fish more times than she can count.
Feel free to use any (sustainable!) white fish you like in this recipe. I went full on Mediterranean and served this with braised kale over a bed of creamy, instant polenta. Just in time to celebrate Mediterranean Diet Month! P.S. Check out this article I wrote on the topic for Food & Nutrition Magazine.
Greek Braised Cod with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh cod filets
- Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in oregano, fennel and crushed red pepper, cooking another 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Pour in white wine, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Pour in tomatoes and olives and simmer about 5 minutes. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper. Place cod filets evenly in the skillet, using a spoon to scoop a little bit of the sauce over the top. Cover and simmer until fish is tender and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes. Serve cod filets topped with sauce.
In case you have a burning desire to turn into a sea monster: