Sustainable sushi guides and the National Sushi Party

Today, three ocean conservation groups in the United States - the Blue Ocean Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium - will each be releasing sushi fish selection guides. They all seem to be printed guides that you have to order (small quibbles: Why not a downloadable PDF so people can start using it immediately? (It seems PDFs are available if you look hard enough. (thanks Avoir!)) Also, why 3 separate guides?) but if you are a sushi aficionado and are concerned about the sustainability of safety of the fish used as sushi neta, you may want to give one of them a look. See the press release here.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (in Monterey, California), which as far as aquariums go is one of the coolest places on earth, already has a very extensive Seafood Watch database as well as regional (American only of course) seafood guides you can order, as well as a mobile phone site. They are also having a National Sushi Party event on Facebook. You can even sign up to be a Seafood Watch Advocate if you are politically inclined (though as of this writing, the page says they have run out of Advocate Kits.)

Having briefly worked at a sushi restaurant, I have doubts as to how much effect the advocacy/politicking method with have on most restauranteurs. But what would definitely work is voting with your money; if you really want to make a statement, stop scoffing down the tuna, yellowtail and eel, and be more adventurous and varied in your sushi selection.

Fishless sushi

I have repeated this several times on these pages: Sushi does not mean 'something with fish'. (Do remember that a key to good sushi is the quality of the rice, as much as the neta that goes on/in it.) You could even have a very nice sushi meal by going fishless. When my mother first succumbed to stress-induced digestive system problems, she could literally only stomach vegetable-based sushi (and she managed a sushi restaurant!) but she didn't feel she was missing anything. Here are some non-fish sushi neta:

  • Tamagoyaki (sweet omelette). Having a sweet tamagoyaki at the end of a sushi meal is like dessert for me!
  • Tsukemono (pickles) such as Chinese (nappa) cabbage, burdock, carrot, turnip etc.; also takuan (yellow dyed pickled daikon)
  • Cucumber (as in a cucumber roll)
  • Avocado (the toro of the vegetable kingdom; try avocado 'sashimi' with wasabi soy sauce!)
  • Daikon radish sprouts
  • Umeboshi
  • Shiso leaves (one of my favorite handrolls is umeshiso, umeboshi with shiso)
  • Onion, green onion
  • Dried gourd strips (kanpyou, used in kanpyou maki)
  • Aburaage, as in inarizushi
  • Meat products - raw meat (a la carpaccio), ham etc... anything soft, rather fatty and salty. Also cheese. Rare to find these at a sushi restaurant, but at home...why not?

What's your favorite sushi?

...besides the usual suspects of tuna, fatty tuna, yellowtail, salmon, eel? Let us know what it is, and why!

See also

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