Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ocean Wise Month Media Launch

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. Ocean Wise has declared November as Ocean Wise Month, a month dedicated to drawing awareness to the many sustainable seafood varieties we are so lucky to have access to in Canada. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. I first learned about Ocean Wise at their Tides of Change event this past Spring, and was immediately struck by their cause. The past event was so well executed and so informative, I knew I couldn't miss out on the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch. 
The Media Launch drew attention to the biggest threat facing our waters today, overfishing. Through culinary demonstrations, three top Ontario seafood chefs shared their experiences on seeking out and obtaining sustainable seafood for their business, how the seafood landscape has changed over the years due to overfishing, and how we, as consumers, can make the right choices when purchasing and ordering seafood. 
The event began with a demonstration by Chef Lirad Kligman of Neptuno Oysters on how to properly and safely shuck an oyster. He told us all about how Neptuno obtains their oysters and the many health benefits of eating oysters, which include its high levels of zinc. He prepared an oyster amuse bouch with umi mousse and chives as well as one of my favourites of the day, Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam. The Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam blew me away with it's sweet and savory combo, and the unexpected burst of flavour from the kiwi. Chef Kligman was kind enough to provide his recipe for the arctic kiwi jam so that we can recreate this striking dish at home! 
Chef Lirad Kligman using his Dexter knife to demonstrate how to properly shuck an oyster
Oyster Amuse Bouch 
uni mousse & chives
Kumamato Oyster with Arctic Kiwi Jam
Recipe for Arctic Kiwi Jam
1 pint arctic kiwi
2 cups gewurztraminer 
3 cups sugar

  • Reduce wine by half.
  • Add sugar, stir until dissolved
  • Add kiwi (skin on, whole) and lower heat.
  • Once kiwis begin to burst, remove from heat and cool.
Suggested Cocktail Pairing
Caesar made with house-made Ocean Wise Clamato juice
Next up was Chef Kristin Donovan of Hooked Inc., who told us about the advantages of Great Lake fishing and how lucky we are as Canadians to have access to Great Lake fish. One of the problems with Great Lake fish is that the American market walks away with a big chunk of it, making it difficult for Canadian retailers and business' to get their hands on this fantastic sustainable resource. Chef Donovan told us about how her and her business partner and husband Dan Donovan fought to acquire some of the best quality Great Lake fish to sell and serve at Hooked Inc. 

Chef Donovan demonstrated one of her favourite ways to cook fresh fish, making Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote. Papillote is a method of cooking which allows the subtlety of fresh fish to shine by steaming the fish with herbs and vegetables in individual parchment paper packets. The papillote method not only helps deliver in terms of flavour, but also helps to create a memorable dining experience. Chef Donovan told us about how special it is to serve fish on papillote at dinner parties, encouraging each diner to cut into their individual fish package right at the table, allowing the aromas to burst out of the paper and dance around the dining room. Although it may appear complicated, it's actually quite simple to prepare, and is a great option for entertaining, as you can prepare everything in advance and simply pop in the oven when ready to serve. 
Chef Kristin Donovan demonstating how to cook fish using the papillote method
Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote 
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
Smoked Ontario Lake Whitefish Rillettes
crostini with heirloom pickled beets & wild arugula
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
The show-stopper of the day had to be from Chef Taylor McMeekin, former chef at Mildred's Temple Kitchen and current chef du cuisine at Air Canada Club, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Chef McMeekin demonstrated his fine knife skills by showing attendees how to basket one of his favourite sustainable fish, rainbow trout. Chef McMeekin fondly recalled memories of his childhood, fishing for rainbow trout with his father, and told us about how the seafood landscape in Canada has changed drastically over the years. 
"We're at a critical point where, if we blindly continue our current seafood harvesting and consumption patterns, we will start seeing entire species disappear in our oceans, much like we did in earlier decades in the Great Lakes...Compared to even a few short decades ago, fisheries in the Great Lakes region have recovered to a great degree, and are much healthier than before, which means there are sustainable seafood options right here in Ontario. It's time to re-evaluate our go-to seafood choices." - Chef Taylor McMeekin
Both Chef McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout with wild rice and fennel sausage as well as his Cold Smoked Trout with ginger glaze, matsu apple, and soy emulsion were definitely the standouts of the day, which says a lot considering the high quality of food that was being served by all three chefs. Both dishes were right on par with contrasting flavours and textures, as well as a beautiful presentation that had all attendees snapping up photos left, right, and centre. Chef McMeekin was kind enough to provide us with his delicious recipe for his Stuffed Rainbow Trout to wow guests at home.
 Chef Taylor McMeekin demonstrating his knife skills on this fresh rainbow trout
Stuffed Rainbow Trout
wild rice & fennel sausage
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay
The beautifully plated stuffed rainbow trout
Chef Taylor McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
1 rainbow trout
700 grams diced leek
100 grams wild rice
200 grams Italian sausage
10 grams sliced east west garlic
2 grams fennel pollen
1 sprig fresh thyme
kosher salt to taste

  • Blanch leek greens for 30 seconds and place in an ice bath.
  • Simmer wild rice until puffed.
  • Remove spine and ribcage of trout through back leaving belly intact.
  • Uncase and brown sausage.
  • Dice Leek and and garlic, add to sausage.
  • Add thyme and wild rice.
  • Continue on low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Remove and Cool.
  • Once cool, stuff trout with the cooled mixture and tie with blanched leeks greens.
  • Season with fennel pollen and salt.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºC.
Cold Smoked Trout
wild ginger glaze, matsu apple & soy emulsion
 Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay

This whole event was a precursor to the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise 2012 Chowder Chowdown competition, which is being held tomorrow, November 21st, at the Fairmont Royal York. Attendees will have the chance to savour a dozen original, ocean-friendly chowders, paired with craft beers, and vote for their favourite. Tickets are still available to the public here! I hope to see you there!
Remember to look for the Ocean Wise symbol when purchasing and ordering seafood! The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium's assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. 

Listening To:
Hot Chip - Motion Sickness

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.