Friday, April 15

The Good Friday fish buying guide and talking sustainability with Curtis Stone

There's nothing quite like picking up your telephone and hearing on the other end: 'Hi Melissa, it's Curtis, Curtis Stone' really.  A bit surreal.  Someone who's cardboard cut-out you pass regularly on your way through the supermarket....

Now he's talking to ME on the phone. Thank goodness he can't see me, I'm in my tracky dacks.

In fact, when he calls me he's just finished cooking fish on the The Circle - here he is their test kitchen with his sous-chef Hawaiian born Mario Manabe (thank you Emily for your pic! x) - the recipe looked easy but impressive - you can find it here.

Curtis is passionate about getting the good word out about fish with his latest campaign with Coles about Fish sustainability.   Curtis has worked with Coles and the WWF to ensure all fish at Coles is sold in an ethical and responsible way.  I like this because for me, I'm not totally up on what's sustainable and what's not - and that is an important thing to know - so Coles is taking the guesswork out of it for me!

So once I've got over the shock that I'm sitting there in my tracky dacks, talking to Curtis Stone, and my questions I prepared are on my computer which has decided to spontaneously lock, I gain composure and begin asking the questions I want to ask... for all of us -

What does that all mean?
'Coles have signed a 3 year agreement with World Wildlife Fund to ensure they sell only seafood that are sustainable - i.e. are not endangered and whose supply is constant. This of course changes all the time, so accordingly you will find the seafood changes from time to time at your local Coles.'

Curtis he tells me has a very active role in this new direction of Coles - he is passionate about ethical food and although he knows price is quite a concern of the average shopper he put it to me in a very provoking way.

'Imagine if you were serving your dinner to your family - organic this and free-range that, and then someone came up and said 'hey, here's $2.50 - I'm just going to give inject some hormones here, and some additives there'  would you take the money?' 

Isn't that literally food for thought? You could also easily exchange the 'inject some hormones here and additives there' for 'swap it with imported product' too.

Do you know how Coles is progressing with labeling genetically modified food?  Do you see this happening in any near future?

'I definitely see that as something that looks like it will be on the cards world-wide - it's very hard to trace though in some cases as some fish for example feed off waste of other fish and even other fish entirely - who's to say if it's wildcaught fish that it hasn't fed from waste that has genetically modified fish in it?  It could easily happen in a farming environment too - but I think the word is getting out there, I think it's in the  future.'

What are your suggestions for those of us who arrive at the fish counter and draw a blank?
What should pregnant/breastfeeding mothers choose?
'You need to buy fish with low mercury content - so try baby barramundi, whole or filleted snapper.'
Kids? (even those who think real fish comes in a fish finger!)
'Try some boneless fillets of trevally, blue eye cod or barramundi.  These will hold together when cooked either on a frypan, stove top, bbq or oven.   You could try crumbing them and shaping into fish fingers or coujons'
'Barbeque on the flat part of your grill only and choose a firm fish like barramundi, blue eyed cod, trevally or salmon.  Avoid tuna on the BBQ as it quite dry.'
Baking fish?
'Baking fish is a really great 'set and forget' and by wrapping loosely and sealing in aluminium foil with flavour you can achieve a very good result without a lot of effort.  Any kind of fish is great baked.'
What are some budget options you could recommend?
'Shellfish like prawns and yabbies are great budget busters and there's many ways to prepare them - mussels and calamari are also great budget ways to get your fix of fresh seafood.  Sushi is a great option for budget fish consumption because you only need a little - prawn or salmon.'

You can see more information on how to select, prepare and cook fish for your family here at the Coles seafood online guide.  (I'd personally love to see this as an iPhone app don't you think?)

And the last question I ask is about some of the apparatus he cooked with that morning -  in particular I was enamoured with the oil bottle and mortar and pestle - both of which he says on the Circle are from his range - I ask where can you get them?  David Jones people!  Aren't they lovely?  

So friends, how often do you cook with fish?  Do you have a favourite type/method of cooking?  Does the idea of touching raw fish give you the willies?

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10 lovely comments:

Katie on April 15, 2011 at 8:10 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Wow, great interview Liss. Concise yet very informative and he sounds really lovely! I think his work with Coles so far has been great, for him and for Coles. Good to see him actually putting some of his real beliefs into the campaign too and great that Coles are moving in that direction too. Loving your work (blog)more and more every day. xxx Katie

Lucy on April 15, 2011 at 8:16 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I'm a poacher...

Dealing with fish doesn't bother me. One of my first "tests" in ac ommercial kitchen was to scale and de-gill a whole bucket of trout. Nice. It hardened me up for most other fish prep!

Megan Blandford on April 15, 2011 at 8:23 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great interview! I love the way he worded that question about the price. So true.

muppy on April 15, 2011 at 8:30 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

This is really interesting, i am so pleased that sustainability is becoming more prominent, i believe it is so important - its nice that you reminded me of it.
I try to eat some form of seafood a couple of times a week and i love to cook it anyway. My favourite would have to be whole baked fish, we only do this sometimes. I must admit that i usually get my husband to do the 'urky' bits!
I usually shop at Coles but rarely buy any seafood as in the past I have been really unhappy with the quality - its just not that fresh.

Liss on April 15, 2011 at 8:56 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

@Megan Blandford You know what Megan? I think that's got the potential to be a 'lightbulb moment' for many!

Lauren on April 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I really appreciate Coles steps to make their food more ethical and sustainable. I love that they're selling free-range pork now under their own label, and that around Christmas time we had free-range turkey options. The seafood commitment is just another thing that impresses me.

But one thing that really irks me is that it seems that their free-range ethical options are rarely put on special. If cost is an issue for some people, why not slash a few dollars off the cost of the free-range pork or the Lilydale chicken, rather than the non-ethical alternatives once in a while?

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Wow! How exciting to interview Curtis!

I never used to cook much seafood until I started to go to my local fresh fish shop late last year. Now it's a weekly thing for my, a quick easy dinner. I usually just pan fry/ grill the fish with a little spray oil and some herbs or spices. Yummy!

Touching the fish doesn't bother me at all!

Don't usually by my fish from Coles although love that they are starting this campaign. Martha Stewart is always talking about sustainable consumption of Fish for the future!


Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great Interview Liss...I'm moving my family more and more in the ethical, organic direction (I live in mining town in the desert in SA so unfortunately we don't have huge options)...have just sent hubby off to the (mobile) fish man to buy some sustainable SA produce!

Loved hearing about what coles are doing to support this! Tatum

Liss on April 16, 2011 at 10:24 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

@TatumW Tatum a bit off topic but are you in Roxby Downs? Hubby was working there for a period whilst we were engaged and I've been there a few times! Is the IGA still the only place you can shop there? It would be quite hard to shop ethically there on the whole given it's position and what's available but doing organic/free-range/greenhousing your own (is that even possible there?) might be the only option!?

Corrie on April 20, 2011 at 11:32 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

sorry I didn't look at your popcorn carrots on your blog today because that hunk of spunk curtis was on your blog! He can call me anytime! ANYTIME!

great interview:)



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