Beyond Salmon: 5 Sustainable Fish for the Environmentally-Conscious Pescavore

Emily Monaco
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When it comes to fish, most people feel pretty good about salmon. I know a good number of people who like tuna, and some who like sole. But other than that? It can be pretty hard to get people interested. And that’s unfortunate for two reasons. The first is that salmon, tuna and sole are some of the least sustainable marine species out there. The second is that there are a whole lot of sustainable fish to enjoy. Trust me, OK? I come from a Sicilian family, which means I’ve been eating anchovies since… well before the Ninja Turtles made them uncool. And now they’re cool again, as are these 5 fantastically sustainable fish.



A lot of the most sustainable fish are small fish – that’s because they’re usually used as bait for larger fish, and if we fish them instead of fishing the larger fish, we can allow them to prosper. With me so far? That being said, the smaller fish are the ones that usually have the strongest flavor and can be the toughest sells for new fish lovers. So I like to start with butterfish, which is a bait fish – it’s usually used as bait for tuna – but it’s actually not that dissimilar to many white fish you might have tried before. Butterfish’s name is apt – it’s buttery and flaky and flavorful. This grilled butterfish recipe is the perfect way to bring out its natural flavors.


Pole-Caught Sablefish

Some larger species of fish are sustainable to eat when caught using sustainable methods, like pole-caught sablefish. You’ll often find this sold as black cod, though that’s technically a misnomer. The fish does have much the same flavor and texture as cod, however, and you’ll often find it prepared with Asian ingredients. One of my favorites is this tasty ginger-soy glaze, which brings out the flavors of the sablefish without overpowering them.



Wait! Don’t run away!

OK, I know sardines are not the most popular fish, but really, once you get to know them, they’re super tasty. The secret is to take advantage of their natural fattiness, and there’s no better way to do that than to break out your grill. In this recipe, they’re marinated in lemon, garlic and paprika, which offset the stronger flavor of sardines, and then they’re grilled. The result is a really meaty dish that will make you change your tune about sardines.


Spot Prawns

Spot prawns are local to the Pacific Northwest and a super sustainable alternative to any other shrimp. While you could really use spot prawns in any shrimp recipe and love them, they’re really sweet and meatier than other prawns, so I like to serve them with a simple dressing, like in this lime and cilantro spot prawns recipe. It’s got a bit of a Vietnamese flavor, which is super fun and different.



So… I personally love pickled herring, but I know it’s not everyone’s thing. And herring has got a bit of a bad rep due to its connection with this recipe, so I’m offering something that’s a bit more pleasing to everyone’s palates. This Mediterranean-style herring linguine uses herring as a seasoning for pasta with cherry tomatoes, herbs and chili. What’s nice about this recipe is that it eases you into the flavor of the fish. Once you’ve gotten to know herring in this context, you’ll soon discover all the other awesome things you can do with it!


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