Go Fish: Blues Make Good Choice for Sustainability

The Atlantic bluefish fishery operates from Maine to Florida, and the recreational sector accounts for most of the bluefish caught annually. (Seafood Watch)

The Atlantic bluefish fishery operates from Maine to Florida, and the recreational sector accounts for most of the bluefish caught annually. (Seafood Watch)

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

According to a recent report released by the United Nations, our meat-forward eating habits are having a big impact on the environment — and not in a good way.

Farm animals produce 25 percent to 30 percent of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, which traps heat 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. One small step we can take to reduce climate emissions is to eat less meat, and perhaps fill that protein void by eating more sustainably caught local fish.

As New Englanders with access to plenty of ocean, our seafood options are vast and varied. But not all options are created equal. Some fish, like the local cod, are in dangerous waters (pun intended) when it comes to population decline. But fear not, there’s plenty of sustainable options that are just as, and arguably more, tasty. We’re going to highlight these choices in a new monthly feature called Go Fish.

To do so, ecoRI News is partnering with Kate Masury of Eating with the Ecosystem, a local organization dedicated to promoting a “place-based approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood,” and Stuart Meltzer of the Fearless Fish Market in Providence.

Each month with the help of Kate and Stu, we will provide information on a sustainably caught fish, why it’s good to eat, and provide a recipe.

Featured species: bluefish

Flavor: rich, salty, fish-forward

Texture: firm, meaty
Sustainability level: best choice/good alternative

The first time I had bluefish was at a local restaurant where it was basted in a pool of nutty brown butter and served with an herb-onion salad and fresh-made tortillas. Its signature purplish-blue flesh had tempered to white during cooking, and each bite was silky and rich.

Bluefish is a sustainable delight that is readily available in the summer, when it migrates to the New England coast after spending the colder months in the South Atlantic Bight. It’s a hardy predator whose active lifestyle requires more oxygen than most fish, turning its flesh the purplish-blue color that gives the species its name. Its great seared in a pan until the skin gets crispy and golden, or as the recipe below suggests, soaked in a soy-sauce citrus marinade and grilled until charred and smoky.

According to Seafood Watch, bluefish caught in the north Atlantic is a “best choice.” This means “the stock is healthy, and management is effective. In addition, bycatch and habitat impacts are a low concern.” When buying, look for fish that has been caught by handline or hand-operated pole and line.

Recipe: Grilled Bluefish

from Simmering the Sea, a cookbook put together by Eating with the Ecosystem

1⁄4 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup lime juice
1⁄4 cup grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
4 bluefish fillets, skin on, washed and patted dry
Lemon wedges for garnish

Make marinade by whisking all ingredients together except for fish and lemon. Place fish in marinade, cover, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Remove fish and pat dry. Discard marinade. Grill over charcoal for 3-4 minutes on either side. Remove skin by slowly pulling it away from the meat, then serve bluefish with a lemon wedge.

If you make this dish, snap a picture and tag us @ecorinews and @eatingwiththeecosystem on Instagram.