Chefs across Canada serve up quality, farmed salmon
Chefs across Canada have signed on with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program in record numbers – some 3,100 restaurants across the country now serve at least some sustainable fish and seafood on their menus, making Canada’s Ocean Wise initiative a leader in the world.But salmon is still a controversial subject – there is a wild, sustainable salmon fishery on the west coast, but there is also farmed salmon that gets poor marks from the Ocean Wise experts.
That is, except for a few cutting-edge fish farmers, including Bruce Swift of Agazziz, British Columbia. At Swift Aquaculture he is pioneering land-based aquaculture in a closed system on his farm east of Vancouver. Swift raises Coho salmon in 10 above-ground tanks – about 10 tonnes of salmon every year – and uses the recycled water and fish effluent to grow everything from crayfish and watercress to wasabi, edible flowers and rice.
While it was difficult for Swift to sell his farmed salmon to Vancouver chefs in the beginning, once they understood his unique, sustainable farming method, top cooks came calling. Now you’ll find farmed Coho from Swift Aquaculture on the menu at top Vancouver restaurants like C and Nu, and the chefs there also use wasabi, watercress, crayfish and flowers from the Swift family’s one-stop farm shop.
Choosing sustainable seafood remains a complicated business, so it’s best to check regularly with the Ocean Wise or SeaChoice programs – carry a pocket SeaChoice guide or download their sustainable seafood app. When it comes to salmon wild pink, Coho, Chinook, chum and sockeye from BC coastal waters are certified Ocean Wise. Thanks to Swift’s pioneering work, others are following suit and now farmed Coho salmon, from land-based operations, is available in Western Canada at Overwaitea food stores.
Fish wholesalers and retailers now carry a variety of certified Ocean Wise products, and you’ll see the Ocean Wise symbol on menus across Canada, from university cafeterias and sports arenas to fast casual spots and the top tables in the land. Even Bento, Canada’s largest sushi company, has pledged that, by 2012, it will only use sustainable seafood products.
Canadian chefs have also collaborated in a new cookbook – The Ocean Wise Cookbook: Seafood recipes that are good for the planet (Whitecap Books) – with detailed information on several sustainable species and how to cook them at home.