I am SO SO SO excited about this recipe, you guys. First, because APPLES ARE BACK and I am putting them in all.of.the.things; second, because we’re talking about SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD which as you probably know is one of my favorite things to talk about in the history of forever; THIRD, THERE IS BOURBON.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have THINGS to discuss!
(Also, there is a giveaway. Keep reading for all the juicy details!)
This post is part of Fishpeople Seafood’s Fear No Fish campaign, which, ummm, I AM OBSESSED WITH. They’re teaming up with some wonderful food bloggers (including some of our fabulous SSBP Blog Partners!) to debunk some the most popular myths about buying and cooking seafood. You can follow along with #FearNoFish on social media or on their other partner blogs by visiting their Fear No Fish homepage here.
(Also, if you have five minutes, hop over to the Fishpeople website and read their mission statement. I promise it will give you alllllll of the feels).
I swear I’m going to tell you allllll about this salmon (because YUM), but first, we’re going to have a lil’ heart-to-heart about seafood fraud, foreign fish, and why we should all be concerned about the issue of seafood mislabeling.
And, okay, I totally get it: trying to buy the “right” seafood can be CONFUSING. But we’re in this together! And today, we’re breaking down the basics of seafood fraud so that we can all smack that seafood confusion right in its face and get back to eating as much delicious, seasonal, SUSTAINABLE seafood as we possibly can.
Ready?? Because it’s time for some REAL TALK. (And then some salmon. And then a giveaway!)
What is Seafood Fraud?
Broadly speaking, “seafood fraud is the practice of misleading consumers about their seafood in order to increase profits” (Thanks, Oceana!)
There are three main types of seafood fraud recognized by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) FishWatch program:
- A good ol’ (well, BAD ol’) bait and switch. Since it can be difficult to tell the difference between various types of whitefish once they’re filleted, unethical suppliers or distributors “substitute a low-valued species for a more expensive one (for example, passing off catfish as grouper)” (NOAA). This lets them charge premium prices associated with higher-quality fish, even though what you’re getting is something different. The FDA has a fairly detailed list identifying lower-cost species commonly substituted for higher-cost fish.
- Short-Weighting. There are a variety of processing techniques – such as overglazing (using more ice than necessary and effectively adding water weight to the fish) and soaking (using excess additives) – that can increase the total weight of the seafood. Including these additions in the total weight of the seafood constitutes fraud – consumers should only be paying for the seafood itself, and short-weighting “charges consumers more for less seafood” (NOAA). The Boston Globe has a good breakdown of short-weighting issues here.
- Mislabeling. This goes further than just lying about what species of fish you’re selling – particularly when it comes to foreign seafood imports. Unethical suppliers may also lie about the Country of Origin, use illegal fishing vessels, or even falsify trade documents to avoid paying fees that legally, responsibly imported seafood would ordinarily incur (NOAA).
Still with me? Good! Here’s another salmon picture to break up all this fraud talk:
Yummmmmmm. But back to business!
Ok, so we know what seafood fraud is. But why do we need to be worried about it?
- It’s a BIG PROBLEM. A 2013 Oceana Study DNA-tested 1,200 samples taken from hundreds of restaurants across 21 states and found that a full ONE-THIRD of samples – particularly tuna and snapper – were mislabeled. This trend holds for more species-specific studies as well: a 2015 Oceana Study found 38% percent of “local” Maryland Chesapeake Blue Crab Cakes contained imported crab from unsustainable fisheries as far away as Indonesia; an Inside Edition investigation earlier this year revealed 35% of restaurant lobster dishes featured “cheap substitutes;” and separate studies from both Oceana and The University of Washington reveal a high rate of salmon mislabeling. Yikes!
- Seafood fraud costs us money. The Atlantic reports that seafood fraud deprives the American economy of nearly $25 billion PER YEAR. This is in part because seafood imports are taxed differently depending on the species, and certain products are also subject to anti-dumping duties as high as 65%. By swapping one fish out for another in customs inspections, unethical companies can evade high fees on imported goods and still sell the product for a high market price. In 2010, a former Seafood CEO was sent to prison for evading more than $60 million (!!!) in federal tariffs by passing mislabeled, imported fish off as the real thing.
- Eating mislabeled fish can have health consequences. In laboratory testing, mislabeled imported fish has been found to contain additives banned in the U.S., and in one case mislabeled tuna was replaced with a species known to cause severe digestive problems. (If you’re curious, here’s a list of acceptable seafood labels as determined by the FDA).
- The majority of our seafood is imported, and the U.S. hasn’t been doing a very good job of policing those imports. The general consensus is that foreign fisheries are responsible for the bulk of seafood fraud in the U.S. – NOAA reports that just over 90% of our seafood is imported. These imports mainly come from China, Canada, Indonesia, Ecuador, Vietnam, and Thailand – several of which are notorious for loose regulations, polluted waterways, and – most importantly – the use of slave labor in the shrimping industry. The U.S. is taking steps to correct the issues with our seafood import system, but we still have a long way to go.
Okay. How are we doing, folks? Good? ish?
If your instinct right now is to scream “OMG WE’RE DOOMED” and curl up in a ball on the floor, 1) Dude, I’VE BEEN THERE but also 2) Hang with me for another minute, because I promise that all is not lost!
As consumers, we have some pretty serious vote-with-our dollars power. We just need to learn how to wield it – which, yes, I know, can be WHOA TOTAL GROCERY STORE OVERWHELM.
But even the smallest steps make a difference.
So here are 5 things you can do TODAY to buy responsibly-sourced, sustainable, fraud-free seafood:
- Download the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch App. It’s FREE, available for both iPhone and Android, and run by the super-fab folks at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Search for seafood by species and see an up-to-date list of what traits (farmed, wild, domestic, etc.) to look for when you buy.
- Buy from companies you know are committed to sustainability and traceability. Fishpeople is a good one to start with: each of their products comes with a unique traceability code that you can punch into their website to see EXACTLY where your fish came from and which of their independent fishermen caught it! At the store, look for labels like MSC or Seafood Watch “Best Choice” to denote sustainability-certified products. You can also join a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in your area – find a local CSF with this handy search.
- Buy American whenever possible – ESPECIALLY if you’re buying shrimp. As a whole, American fisheries are managed quite sustainably (just look at Wild Alaskan Salmon!) Bonus points for supporting your local economy and American small business owners.
- Buy in-season (or frozen fillets harvested in-season). Many people don’t know that seafood is seasonal, just like your favorite fruits and veggies. But it is! And it’s important to buy from companies who fish in season (even if you’re buying frozen three months after the season’s ended!) You can usually find helpful seafood seasonality charts for your area with a quick Google search – I love this one from Gulf Coast Seafood and these breakdowns from the Louisiana Seafood Board. When in doubt, ask your fishmonger! People behind the fish counter – particularly at places like Whole Foods and Wegmans – almost always know what’s in season locally.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your grocer or waiter or sister or stranger at the fish n’ chips stand WHERE THAT SEAFOOD CAME FROM. I know it can feel a little awkward at first to ask those questions, but YOU GUYS – you are literally putting this stuff INTO your BODY. Don’t you think it’s worth it to know what exactly you’re eating? I BELIEVE IN YOU!
OH MAH GOODNESS. We did it! I know this post was a little longer than normal, so thank you x 10175098609 for always sticking with me while we dive into these important issues.
You and I and our friends and neighbors and that annoying guy at the office and my Fishpeople people and literally EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE are all a part of this food system.
These issues are on all of us. But we’re all in this together, and that’s a pretty wonderful thing.
Also, should we talk about this salmon a teensy bit? Yes? Ok. I’ll keep it short because HOLY MOLY you’ve already read ALL THE WORDS TODAY.
I used Fishpeople’s Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillets for this recipe – they come pre-portioned which is the BEST especially for lazy people like me who never bother to portion out their fish and wind up eating an entire salmon fillet all by their lonesome #SorryNotSorry.
This glaze is the bomb. THE BOMB, you guys. And the slaw is the perfect bite of fall – a little crunch, a little sweetness, a little amazing (sustainable! Hey-oh) wild salmon, a lot of “excuse me while I faceplant right into this deliciousness K THANKS BYE.”
Also, IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME! The fab folks at Fishpeople are giving one lucky Life As A Strawberry reader a fish-tastic sustainable seafood prize pack, including a copy of Salmon: Everything You Need to Know and a pack of tasty Fishpeople products! To enter, use the widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
PS – Hungry for more? Download Fishpeople Seafood’s AWESOMESAUCE Cheatsheet here!
- 1 lb. Wild Alaskan Salmon, split into 4 individual portions (I used these pre-portioned fillets from Fishpeople!)
- ⅔ cup bourbon
- ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small bulb fennel, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 small apples, cored and shredded (about 1.5 cups)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange salmon fillet portions skin-side down on the pan.
- In a small saucepan or skillet, whisk together bourbon, maple syrup, brown sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until glaze has thickened to a light syrup consistency, about 5-10 minutes.
- Reserve about ½ the glaze for topping the cooked salmon, and brush the remaining half of the glaze over the salmon fillets with a pastry brush.
- Bake salmon at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
- When salmon is cooked, use a clean pastry brush to to fish with the remaining bourbon glaze.
- In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to form your slaw dressing. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together shredded fennel, shredded apples, and chopped parsley.
- Slowly stream dressing into the fennel apple mixture, adding just a bit of dressing at a time and tossing thoroughly in between each addition. You may not need all of the dressing - use just enough to lightly coat the fennel and apples! Save extra dressing for salads or another batch of slaw.
- Top each salmon fillet with a generous helping of apple fennel slaw and serve immediately. I served this salmon over rice pilaf, but you can serve it with rice, pasta, potatoes, roasted veggies, or a salad - whatever you feel like!
The bourbon glaze is a lot of fun, but if you're in a hurry, you can skip the glaze and bake the salmon with just a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup and a pinch of salt and pepper. It will still taste great with the slaw!
This glaze is very sweet, which complements the tartness and brightness of the slaw. If are NOT serving the slaw and the glazed salmon together (or if you just don't like sweet flavors), you may want to adjust the recipe or try something like this mustard roasted salmon instead.
Not a fennel person? Use shredded green cabbage instead.
Serve this salmon and slaw with rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, or on top of a crisp salad.
This slaw would also be delicious with my maple dijon chicken!
Thanks to my friends at Fishpeople for sponsoring this post! To find Fishpeople products near you, use the handy-dandy store locator on their website, and don’t forget to tag your culinary creations with #FearNoFish on social media to join the campaign!