Gutted! (previously, Spaghetti del Mare)
October 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
I feel like quitting the food industry right now. My foundations have been shaken to the core. Last night I casually SMS “bokkom” to the SASSI FishMS service to proudly show someone that our beloved West Coast dried mullet is as green an option as you can get. I’ve used this party trick plenty of times before. But what an awful surprise when Shock! Horror! the SMS returned displayed: Bokkom: Dried, salted mullet. STATUS: RED.
I was, and I still am mortified. I don’t even order status orange fish in a restaurant, let alone cook with it. And here, all of a sudden, one of my favourite and most used local ingredients is RED!
I feel cheated. And the whole thing really scares me. I thought I had the locally sourced, sustainable produce thing completely down. And it turns out I know f*kol.
How can a small operation such as the Bokkom Lane fishing conglomeration be more of a threat to our oceanic resources than multinational, commercial big guns like Sea Harvest and I&J (who, by the way, all of a sudden all carry a Certified Sustainable Seafood stamp from the Marine Stewardship Council)?
The issue apparently steps in with the fishing methods of gillnets and treknets which is used to harvest harders, and the fact that Bokkom Lane is situated on the sensitive Berg River estuary. It is illegal to fish in an estuary, and if indeed the Bokkom Lane fisheries are guilty of this practice, I will be sure to boycott them.
Secondly, if indeed harders are a species under threat, I am determined to stop using industry bokkoms, and will much rather make my own bokkoms from sustainable fish, according to Leipoldt’s recipe.
However, I find it a little hard to believe that trekking harders are less acceptable than deep sea fishing where considerable damage is done to the ocean floor with their huge vacuum systems. Not to mention the bycatch that get discarded in the process, or their negative impact on marine bird life.
But I kind of smell something fishy somewhere. And I am determined to investigate. Or to stop eating fish altogether. Kind of makes we wonder what other ingredients I should stop eating, or cooking with.
Until I have figured it out, I very reluctantly share the recipe for my version of Spaghetti del Mare as served at Oep ve Koep, with bokkoms (possibly for the last time).
Bokkom fillets, torn into strips
White wine steamed mussels in the shell
Sustainable fresh fish, cut into large cubes
2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
Glass of dry white wine
Sugar, salt and pepper to taste
Al dente spaghetti or linguine, and freshly grated parmesan to serve
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan. Briefly fry the bokkoms, olives, capers and sprigs of rosemary until fragrant. Add the white wine in one go and allow to bubble up, then turn down the heat slightly. Now add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes, crushed garlic, paprika and some seasoning. Cook over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken slightly. Now add the chunks of fish, and allow to boil in the sauce until just cooked. Lastly add the steamed mussels, and cook until heated through. Taste for seasoning, spoon over freshly cooked pasta and serve.
*Before you decide to include a version of Spaghetti del Mare on your menu, I suggest logging on to www.wwfsassi.co.za to download the list of status green, sustainable fish. And to religiously use the FishMS service when you dine.
To lighten the mood somewhat, you can also watch Isabella Rosselini’s informative and incredibly cool Green Porno short films at http://www.sundancechannel.com/greenporno/
Her beautiful book and DVD of the same title is one of the main reasons that I have stopped cooking or eating shrimp and prawns whatsoever.
Yours in doubt, despair and suspicion,
Sardines on Toast.