Friday, April 1, 2011

Sensational Sustainable Sushi

This past Wednesday Superking and I had an epically blog-worthy dinner (in DC no less).  It has been killing me that I had to wait this long to post about it (Thursday was a busy day)!! As part of the DC Cherry Blossom Festival, The National Geographic Museum hosted a Sustainable Sushi Tasting Event.

National Geographic Museum

The ceiling in the lobby looked like a starry night

In addition to the museum and the festival, it was co-presented by Genji, a purveyor of all natural sushi and Japanese cuisine. A lot of their products are available at Whole Foods and their main goal is to provide healthy, sustainably caught and responsibly farmed fish and seafood.

Beautiful Japanese paper umbrellas everywhere

fancy dining hall

our table with fake cherry blossoms sprinkled on it

The menu was created by Genji's executive chef Miki Willis, who trained with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Which, if you've ever seen Iron Chef, Morimoto has been on both the American version and the Japanese version and always kills with his creativity of the dishes. Chef Miki Willis would have definitely made her mentor proud with the beautiful creative presentation of this edible art called sushi that we had the other night.

our menu and event program on a fan

First course: Appetizer, skipjack miso tartare with cucumber slices, rice crackers and sesame ponzu dressing

speaker, Barton Seaver

As I take you through the exquisite menu, you'll see that we were not presented with what most people would consider a typical sushi menu.  In fact, as we went through the first five of our seven courses, some may have wondered, where is the sushi? This event wasn't just about sushi but, as the two guest speakers tried to convey, it was also about the sustainability of seafood in our world today.

Second course: Sashimi; wild salmon pastrami with salmon roe, daikon radish, and creamy yuzu dressing

the roe (salmon eggs) beautiful round bubbles that pop in your mouth

The introduction speaker was Barton Seaver, a chef who has dedicated his career to spreading his belief that what we eat for dinner directly effects the ocean and our surrounding environments. The main speaker was Casson Trenor, an author, a supporter of marine resources, student of the ocean, and founder of the first sustainable sushi restaurant in North America. Both men had very thought-provoking points about what "sustainable" means and how we should view our food, specifically seafood, and how that impacts our environments and our well-being.

Third Course Soup: local blue crab in a soy milk miso broth

to die for! sweet! I slurped mine down and then had some of Superking's when he went o the bathroom!

Being in the National Geographic Museum, they spoke about how the National Geographic people go out and explore the world with their cameras to create these magnificent images for us to see.  The rest of us, on the other hand, may not have the opportunity to travel around the world like they do but rather, we explore the world with our forks.  How many of you have eaten Chilean sea bass or sipped an Italian wine or tasted a French brie cheese?
Fourth Course Sampler: scallops three ways
blanched kale and simmered scallop with creamy walnut sauce

roasted beets and fresh scallop with Japanese plum vinegar dressing

sauteed leek and seared scallop with vinegared Japanese mustard miso

Sushi restaurants are now the fastest growing type of restaurants in the U.S.  You can go into a sushi restaurant in Chicago and see the same menu items in a sushi restaurant in California.  This is not necessarily a good thing because it means they are taking fish from somewhere else around the world instead of using what's available to them nearby.  Many of our waters are being over-fished as a result.

Fifth Course Grilled and Fried: grilled ginger miso marinated Spanish mackerel (the main fish with silver skin) with Japanese seven spice (the small brownish mound at top left)
served with purple sweet potato tempura (under the big green leaf), tempura sauce (in small dish), grated radish and chive (the small pink clump at bottom left), and green chili pepper (green thing on top of fish)

What is over-fishing and why is it bad? Over-fishing means to continually catch more fish than can be naturally produced.  Right now world-wide about 90% of large predatory fish stocks are gone forever. Just a hundred years ago there was six times more fish in our waters than what we have now. If this epidemic continues on this down-ward spiral, the results would be devastating on a world-wide scale

Sixth Course Blossoming Sushi: tuna nigiri, butterbur nigiri, shrimp nigiri with smelt roe on top and fried fish head centerpiece

also anchovy nigiri marinated in garlic oil topped with sun-dried tomato and panko breaded horse mackerel in edamame hummus roll

cute little bottle of soy sauce that came with this plate

Here are four S-words the sushi speakers gave us to think about as ways to help this issue and make things better for us as well as the fish and our world in general...
*Small - eat smaller fish instead of always taking from the top of the food chain.
*Seasonal - what's available to you right now in your part of the world? Work with the natural ebb and flow of nature.
*Shellfish - these creatures create more protein than other seafood and they help clean the waters they're in.
*Silver - eat more fish with the silver skin on. These live in cold water and contain high levels of fish oil and omega-three's which are both very healthy.

Seventh Course Dessert: yes, a dessert, a little fishy but surprisingly sweet and yummy

sesame tofu pudding with shiso jelly and a salted cherry blossom on top

Eating sustainably means we need to be better stewards of the creations God has given us to eat and dominate.  We need to make better, more healthy, more environmentally-friendly choices with our forks while we still can. A lot of people, when serving or getting ready to eat a meal say "Bon Appetit!"  In Japan, (I don't know the Japanese word) they say "I take your life". Or in other words, "I humbly accept the honor of taking your life". A strange thing to say about your food before you eat maybe. But I think it says a great deal about how we should view our food.  One of our speakers said, "eating is an act of sacrifice on someone's part".  We should eat with respect to the food and the creatures sacrificing their lives to provide the food. And thank God every day that we even have food to eat.

the chef and her crew

chopstick wrapper

more umbrellas

Superking and I stuffed to the "gills" with sushi (I know bad pun, couldn't resist!)

1 comment:

  1. epic grub fo' realz. sadly very few people consider the source and cost involved of their next meal. i don't get why everyone isn't environmentally conscious - the earth is YOUR home. the planet dies, you die. either we forgo fleeting capitalist profits, or the seas die. and once the seas are dead, we all begin to starve. in the meantime, i'mma eat some smaller fish. anchovies FTW.