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Sustainable sushi in the news, Autumn 2009

Posted by Casson in News and Announcements

The hits just keep on coming!  Here are some new articles and posts by journalists, bloggers, foodies, enviros, and other sustainable sushi supporters from around the globe:

Much gratitude to Valentina Ryan for her generous and thoughtful review of my book Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time;

Be sure and check out the great piece on the sustainable sushi movement and the restaurants that are leading the charge that Clare Leschin-Hoar (who was also responsible for the article in the Christian Science Monitor a few months back) has written for Slashfood;

High-fives to James Wright, associate editor at Seafood Business, for lending me a soapbox in his magazine’s “One-on-One” feature.  Half of the interview is online at seafoodsource.com, and the other half is in the December print issue of Seafood Business.

Flattery will get you everywhere if you’re Brad Spear of the Sustainable Ocean Project and you write a two-part interview piece about my work — I don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it nonetheless!  Thanks!

Muchas gracias to Fernando Fernandez, owner/operator of the eco-entertainment website FernTV, for taking the time to talk with me about sustainable sushi and related issues in a short interview;

How incredible was it to see NHK, the Japanese national TV broadcaster, run a prime-time piece on sustainable sushi and the plight of the bluefin tuna?  Truly astounding.  The piece features two of my dear friends: Sushi Concierge Trevor Corson, and Chef Hajime Sato of Mashiko restaurant.

Although she’s currently based Hong Kong, California girl Krista Mahr still gives props to some hometown boys (Mike Crispino of ISSF, Mike Sutton of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and myself) in her fantastic article on the vanishing bluefin tuna in Time Magazine;

A hearty mange tak to Vibeke Petersen and the rest of the team at DR2 Udland for giving me the chance to speak to the Danish public via a televised primetime segment about sushi and sustainability;

Free drinks to the folks at sushi.pro for mentioning both my work and that of the Tataki team in their recent list of leaders in the sustainable sushi movement — thanks so much;

No prisoners are taken and no punches are pulled in a recent restaurant review by Stett Holbrook, Food Editor for the Silicon Valley Metro, who seizes the opportunity to preach the good word about the critical state of bluefin tuna;

It’s always nice to hear from Nancy Leson, food writer for the Seattle Times, who spread the word about the newly-sustainable sushi bar Mashiko in her recent article on re-imagined restaurants in the Jet City area;

Hugs to the hard-working team at Save Our Shores in Santa Cruz, CA, for writing a glowing review of their dinner at Tataki Sushi Bar (not to mention for everything that SOS does for the oceans every day);

A similarly positive review of Tataki just hit the web, courtesy of Soledad Bleu Etoile — who also had the opportunity to prepare a wonderful dinner for Hosea Rosenberg, Top Chef winner and burgeoning sustainability champion is his own right, the week before;

And speaking of Tataki, congratulations to chef-owner Kin Lui for being named one of the country’s Top 40 Chefs Under 40 by the Mother Nature Network.  It’s great to see Barton Seaver, a huge sustainability advocate and a personal hero of mine, on the list as well!

As the sustainable sushi movement gains steam, more and more progressive and innovative individuals are getting on board.  It seems like every time I turn around, there are new chefs, authors, journalists, activists, entrepreneurs, and bloggers raising the flag.  With this kind of support, I have no doubt that together we will save both the oceans and the art of sushi.

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Update: Freshwater Eel / Unagi (CONTEST)

Please stop eating unagi.

An adult European eel, Anguilla anguilla.

A recent article in the Guardian, a prestigious UK newspaper that has an entire department devoted to environmental issues, has reported that eel populations across the European continent have dropped by 95% in the past 25 years.  Sadly, this isn’t really that surprising.

Steven Morris, the article’s author, writes that “a ban on exporting eels out of Europe – they are a popular dish in the far east – is proposed, along with a plan to severely limit the fishing season and the number of people who will be allowed licences [sic -- heh].”  Unfortunately, that is the extent to which the article discusses the connection of the eel’s dire situation to the sushi world.

Eels in captivity.  Chances are exceptionally good that they were captured from a dying European or American population.

The unagi industry is based primarily in China and relies on glass eels (babies) caught in the wild rather than hatching animals within the farms.

There’s not a whole lot I can add to my current entry on unagi.  It already ends with “Don’t eat it.”  I guess this isn’t so much of an update as it is me beating the same old drum.

I don’t mean to be preachy, but this animal is in serious trouble.  We need to give it a break.  There are other options.  Honestly, drench just about any fatty, sustainable whitefish (I suggest Alaskan or Canadian black cod) in kabeyaki sauce, broil it or sear it with a blowtorch, and serve it with sesame seeds over rice: it’s gonna taste a whole lot like unagi.

Listen, I’m not trying to be obnoxious about this.  I just am particularly passionate about this issue.  The eel is an incredible creature, and we know so little about it.  All freshwater eels from both sides of the North Atlantic swim all the way to one small tract of ocean — the Sargasso Sea — to spawn.  For the longest time, we actually thought they simply incarnated from mud and weeds in rivers because we had never seen breeding eels. There’s still so much we can learn about this animal.

Your entry will be prepared in this fashion.

Let me put something out there, as added incentive.  How about this — everyone who reads this post, please comment on it with your alternative to eel.  It could be anything you want (but black cod, aka sablefish, has already been taken, so that doesn’t count; and no unsustainable items — that goes without saying.)  I’ll wait ten days from posting.  On the eleventh day (May 15th), I’ll take all the suggestions to Chef Kin Lui at Tataki Sushi Bar.  He will look at the list of suggestions, try them out as kabeyaki-style dishes, and choose a favorite.  I’ll post a picture of the winning dish.  Whoever wins will receive a free dinner for two at Tataki Sushi Bar in San Francisco, as well as a signed copy of my book.

Good luck!

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