Choosing Sustainable Seafood & Homemade Smoked Wild Salmon Recipe
We're fortunate on the west coast to be right on the edge of the vast and beautiful pacific ocean.
As an experienced scuba diver, I've explored a lot of the underwater world in many different areas of the world, and while I would love to say that it is a vast ocean teeming with life, I hesitate.
I've dove the Great Barrier Reef and seen the coral bleaching from rising sea temperatures. I've dove in Honduras, one of the best known dive areas, and wondered where all the fish were. I've dove in Indonesia and seen the impact of dynamite fishing on the coral and aquatic populations.
When I travelled to Honduras I volunteered with the Roatan Marine Park, and one of the things we did was make a brochure on local species divided in to three categories: red, yellow and green. The red category was overfished and/or on the species at risk list, and we recommended not serving it. The yellow category was species to serve with caution - their populations weren't strong. The green category was recommended species to serve that there were an abundance of.
We went to each restaurant on the island on a campaign to advocate they support the aquatic life that was such an integral part of this seaside community.
I struggled when I started to eat meat again of how to incorporate fish in a way that minimized the harm being done to the ocean but still allowed me to eat food that was so nourishing to my mind and body. Here's what I recommend considering when purchasing fish:
Where you purchase from matters.
Just as I recommend to know your butcher, I also recommend to know your fisherman. If you live in a coastal community, do some searching about where you can purchase fresh fish "sea to table."
Here are questions to ask your new fisherman friend:
- what do you do with bycatch?
- how do you practice sustainable fishing practices?
- are you Oceanwise certified?
- what other species can I purchase from you? If the fisherman has any bycatch, this could be a great opportunity to try something new that may otherwise by thrown out.
Here's what YOU can do to support sustainable fisheries:
- broaden the kinds of foods you eat from the sea. Here's a great guide called "The State of the Catch" done by the David Suzuki foundation on what sea species are most and least sustainable to be eating.
- at restaurants, choose seafood only if it has the Ocean Wise symbol next to it; if not, ask the restaurant why it doesn't. Recently at Olo Restaurant in Victoria, BC a friend ordered the octopus, and the serve let us know it was caught as bycatch; support restaurants that are taking on the challenge of changing the way seafood is landing on our plate.
- choose one new seafood that isn't something you've had before that isn't at risk, and experiment cooking with it. This is the practice I'm taking on.
- catch your seafood yourself. If you do this, you know there wasn't any bycatch, and you're going out to harvest only what you need. This is how we got all our salmon, halibut and crab this year.
Smoking fish is a long time tradition of preserving fish during the harvest season in First Nation communities. I've been fortunate enough to see traditional smokehouses in a northern BC First Nation, and my inspiration comes from their commitment and dedication to traditional ways of eating and ancient practices of fisheries management.
The first photo is of the salmon hanging after being cleaned to allow any excess fluid to drip off prior to being put in the smoke house.
The next two photos show the inside of the smoke house. Incredible, isn't it?
Wild. Traditional Preservation. Gluten Free.
This recipe is great to try if:
- You want to practice traditional preservation methods of the salmon you've caught rather than freezing it;
- You want more omega 3 oils in your diet to support your mental wellbeing;
Homemade Smoked Wild Salmon
Here is a great recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook that I used to make this candied homemade smoked salmon. I love his blog for the diversity of recipes, particularly with unconventional meats. It's a great resource for anyone branching out from chicken, pork and beef.
I let it sit in the brine for about 3 hours before washing it off and putting it in the smoker. We use the Little Chief Smoker with Alder chips, through I think it would be incredible to get set up with an entire smoke house once we finish the house. The final product was a delicious combination of sweet and salty. Through this process is meant to allow for you to store the salmon through the winter, I challenge you to not eat all this candy within a week!