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About

Welcome to my blog! I am a writer, photographer, food/ prop stylist and film maker. You can find recipes, photos, blog posts, films and videos here.

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Supper Club

Supper Club

The supper club is held in my home in London Fields, Hackney. It is like a dinner party in the tradition of a Vietnamese feast with homemade Vietnamese food.

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Vietnamese food is about the balance of flavours, of sweet, salty and sour – there is no measuring device that can ever match your own taste buds.

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Big Fish Fight: Fin & Flounder

By Leluu
Firstly, please note that I am not a fish expert and I am writing this post with what I have gathered from documentaries, literature and talking to fishmongers.

Trout Stock (Simon’s Photo)

We’ve always known that the world is devastatingly low on fish. If man does not change their ways, one day, 40 years or less, there will be no more fish stocks left in the world – if we were to carry on the way we are carrying on.

The story of fish is so huge, and the policies are wildly complicated and there is so much to learn about what is actually going on with our oceans, fish, fishermen, livelihoods and societies.

This week, Channel 4 are show-casing documentaries called The Big Fish Fight with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Gordan Ramsay, Jamie Oliver & Heston Blumenthal to engage and shock the public into their campaign of  the awareness of the world’s diminishing fish stocks.

I’ve watched ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’ a fascinating, shocking and gripping documentary about common fisheries policy and saw how the reality of the matter is, fishermen and scientists are not seeing eye to eye. The fishermen are at sea, throwing away tons and tons of cod that seem to be in abundance (and not scarce) because it is illegal for them to bring back to shore more than their year’s quota. The footage has bought outrage and anger in me – I had always known that this happens but I have never seen it in the light of day like that. (Not sure how I could have coped seeing it in real life.)
 
It was sobering enough to watch the powerful The End Of The Line, a film made by one of our guests, Christopher Hird. “Where has all the fish gone? We’ve eaten them!”
 
It points out the destruction of sea beds being trawled about 7 times in a year. Imagine if a farm land is trawled so much, how would anything ever grow back? This has completely changed and messed up the sea’s ecosystems.

What to do? We love fish, eating fish is just one of the greatest pleasures. But we must do it with so much more consciousness than ever.

We often buy fish and discards from Richard Hayfield, the owner of my local fish shop on Broadway Market, The Fin & Flounder. He has been educating Simon and I on how fish is caught, who catches them, where his fish comes from, which sort of boat it was caught on, what is endangered as well as about fish discards.

By-catch can be anything from blue fin tuna, dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles but they all have to be thrown back into the sea – dead and wasted. If miles of net is cast into the ocean, you can not help what is being drawn in.

Photo By Simon Fernandez
Photo By Simon Fernandez
Photo By Simon Fernandez
Photo By Simon Fernandez

Once we bought Tope which is a shark from Fin & Flounder. It was not intentionally caught, it was a bycatch and got caught up in the nets as do all things under the ocean. Of course, we would never use caught shark or any endangered fish but we bought the discards that are allowed to be sold from Fin & Flounder because they were caught on day trip boats, which  are small fishing boats –who are only allowed to sell their by-catches.

The shark was absolutely delcious – just pan fried. The beautiful fish would have been thrown back into the sea – dead – for the seagulls if caught by anything other than a day boat. To thinks tons of it is thrown back.

Richard buys fish from Cornish families. You can view more about here on Hubbub where it all comes from. The day boats don’t usually reach their quotas and end up throwing fish away because they target better as they do not just trawl the ocean/ sea. Is this the way forward?

He has all knowledge of fish and sustainability and is an extremely interested and passionate about what he does/ his business. We need more fish shops like these, and yes, the fish comes with a price tag, but we mustn’t forget that fish is scarce. The price is right for what you are eating.

Richard ensures that the fish they sell is sustainable by following advice from local fishermen and recommendations from leading bodies on sustainability. For example, MCS / Pisces Responsible / Seafish. They will always try to source via seasonal, hand dived, day boat and line caught fish and avoid bottom-trawled, beam-trawled or dredged which are the most destructive.

The variety of fish in this little fish shop is just inspiring for any keen cook. I love going in there and deciding what to cook for lunch or dinner as a special treat or just meal for one or for the supper club. Sometimes, Richard advises me on any by catches for some experiments and adventures in cooking.

Photo By Simon Fernandez
Photo By Simon Fernandez

We must prevent from buying fish from places like giant supermarkets who only sells about three types of fish: tuna, salmon and cod as if they are the only fish you can eat. This causes so much of a domino effect. The issue is so huge and complex that I am having trouble of where to think, what to write and how to say it. If we are going to eat fish, we have to wipe our consumer ignorance clean, we have got to eat a more diverse range of fish!

I may be niave and do not know too much about what is happening. All I know is to throw dead fish back into the sea is WRONG! There are many nations who have nothing to eat at all (sometimes because the richest countries in the world are coming to their shores with massive ships and stealing their fish) and how could that help levels of fish? How could this make sense to any of the decision makers and scientists?

We would like to plea to all our readers to click on this link, Hugh’s Fish Fight and join the campaign.

 http://www.fishfight.net/

And if you have another 2 minutes, please kindly copy and paste the sample letter on Client Earth’s website, print it and sign it and send it to your local MP to to sign the Fish Fight EDM. You can easily find the name and address of your MP by entering your postcode. Its so easy! Lets try to make a difference.

  • I’m not a big fish eater, what types should I try and buy instead of the usual cod/salmon/tuna?

  • @Siany
    You should visit your local fish monger, have a chat with them. There are fish like trout, coly, mackeral, crabs… apparently lobsters are in abundance because they caught all the sharks : (

  • What an excellent post. I’m so glad you wrote about this very important subject which has also concerned me for sometime. I happened to stumble upon Fin and Flounders once, what a beautiful little fish mongers, good to know they are actively sourcing ethically caught fish. I have already signed up to the Fish Fight, I hope everyone does and they can make a difference to fishing and to the way people buy fish.

  • It’s a really thorny and complicated issue and it’s really good you’ve highlighted it. I am somewhat in despair at what happens in the ocean and the complete apathy you see towards it on land.

    It’s almost made me want to stop eating fish altogether as we have done so much damage to such a wide area. We’ve pretty much fished out the North Sea, the Grand Banks and so many other places it’s depressing.

    I read HFW’s fish book, which is a good place to start. Since then I have completely stopped eating cod, haddock etc, and cut right down on tuna (mostly stick to tinned albacore these days as yellow and blue-fin has been so badly decimated). Now I try to go for line caught, sustainably fished and local. Mackerel is a great start, Coley and Pollack are also pretty good. My worry is, how long till we fish these stocks out as well.

  • @Vintage Macaroon
    Thank you! This post has been in the pipe works for ages and long over due but now is really the right time to speak, especially as the media/ chefs etc are really taking this on to make people more aware and how urgent and vital it is that we must change the way we eat fish as aswell as how we catch it.

    Its a ugly subject but a very important one, and any one with a blog/ voice should mention it. We have to take it out from underneath the rug.

    @The Grubworm
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment (as always).
    I agree with you. Eating other fish helps momentarily, but those will run out as well. There must be ways in fishing that has to change, and that starts with us, not buying non sustainable tin tuna, supermarket giant fish etc and to write to our MPs, and to at least be conscious of every impact we have on the oceans when we buy cod and other endangered fish.

    This issue is so huge, that I worry what would happen if you can bring “discards” back – what would happen then? The fishermen will catch more?

    We all must actively ask where all our fish comes from before we chose to eat it.

  • Princes tinned tuna: kills turtles and sharks too. Write to them now! http://bit.ly/gIR1wV #bigfishfight #fishfight

  • @Siany, what a great question, what should we be eating? There’s an abundance of other white fish similar to cod, and, in fact, even in the same family, Pouting, Pollack, Coley and in-shore caught Ling are all good starts.

    For salmon simply aim for a well looked after farm like Loch Duart Salmon, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try carp, a super sustainable fresh water fish.

    As for tuna, well, that’s the hardest one, there simply isn’t anything that quite replaces a well cooked tuna steak but sourcing sustainably is a great start, stocks of all tuna are low, you should always avoid bluefin and be very cautious with yellowfin and albacore; aim for short-line caught, regular lines can reach a few miles long so the tag can be somewhat misleading. If you want tinned tuna, pole caught is the only real sustainable option. One thing to bare in mind is that the beautiful everyday mackerel is in the same family and extremely abudant!

    @thegrubworm, Worrying about the stocks of what sometimes appear to be replacement white fish for cod, such as pollack, is completely justified, again source sustainably! Some species like Mackerel and herring grow to maturity very quickly and so breed a lot faster than some larger species like cod and ling

  • Something is dreadfully wrong with our world isn’t it. I totally support the fish fight – well done for posting this.

  • @fernandeznleluu and @Fish & Flounder – thanks for the responses to my comment. I didn’t know albacore was in danger too. Gah. Mind you, I do try to stick to the Fish4Ever tins which I think are sustainable.

    It sounds like the main thing is to source sustainably in places like Fish & Flounder. Even my local the The Fishery labels its fish with how sustainable it is (although it doesn’t stop them having unsustainable things like tuna).

    One question I have: is Alaskan wild salmon sustainable if its got the MSC mark on it? (Trying not to think about food miles here).

  • @The Grubworm The MSC certified alaskan salmon is sustainable, they have really good numbers over there and the certification is only for specific species and fishing methods. The problem here is, as you suggested, food miles there’s plenty of other, closer to home river fish.

  • @Sally
    Thanks Sally – you can help by spreading the word too.

    @Fin & Flounder
    Thanks for answering all the questions much better than what I can x

  • cloverbitz

    Spotted your write – ups, it’s cool. Very beneficial and interesting there are some ideas I haven’t heard before. Thanks for sharing.

    clover
    http://www.n8fan.net

  • rachellemadrigal

    I really like your ideas. I truly appreciate your effort in publishing this article. Keep it up and God bless.

    Lizzy
    http://www.imarksweb.org