"For Cod and Country" and the National Geographic Sustainable Sushi Dinner

The missus and I truly lucked out yesterday. Our friend Jackie e-mailed us yesterday morning to say that she had extra tickets to the National Geographic Sustainable Sushi Event. We had no idea what to expect, but "sustainable," "sushi," and "free" are three of my favorite words, so how could it not be fantastic? What we didn't realize is that, by dint of Jackie's position at Whole Foods, we were seated at the Genji Table. Genji, based in Philly, is the company that provides sushi to Whole Foods, and they were responsible for providing the seven seafood courses for last night's event. By happenstance, I sat right next to Barton Seaver--chef, author of the book you see above, and introductory speaker at last night's event.

Barton Seaver has had a compelling and varied career. Up until about two years ago he helmed D.C.'s best seafood restaurant, Hook, and served on the D.C. Mayor's Council on Nutrition. He now focuses his efforts on promoting awareness of the dire (far more dire than I realized) situation of the earth's fish stocks, but more importantly, what we can do about it. To that end, he currently has a fellowship with National Geographic, and has published the book you see above, which is well-written and designed, and filled with information and great-looking recipes. His knowledge of seafood and the surrounding sustainability issues is encyclopedic, and he is an engaging and enthusiastic speaker on the subject. It turns out he also lives in our neighborhood, in Mt. Pleasant, D.C. Naturally I purchased his book, which he signed "best fishes." You can pre-order it here or on Amazon, or if you live in D.C., purchase it at Politics & Prose. I urge you to do so. I plan on making a dish from it tonight, and perhaps will post about it.

Now, the dinner. It was held in a hall in the National Geographic building, set up with dining tables and Japanese decorations, with koto and shamisen music playing softly in the background. The main speaker, Casson Trenor, has also authored a book, Sustainable Sushi. He gave a brief speech about the state of the Earth's fishstocks, and throughout the evening's seven courses he would go back to the stage to explain what we were eating, why it was sustainable, and what we could be doing to help promote sustainable seafood. The highlight courses for me were the skipjack tuna minced with a delicious sauce, a Maryland blue crab soup, and especially a kale salad (sauteed or steamed, I'm not sure) with scallops and a dressing that I believe had miso in it. They also offered a delicious sake, and two varieties of delicious Argentine wine.

I've lamented before on Kitchen Monkey about the state of the world's tuna. But there is no question that I take the issue of seafood sustainability far more seriously than before. It means I will be giving up on a number of fishes that I love, but it will also drive me to be more adventurous with "greener" fishes that I have overlooked or not fully explored.

In any event, it was a fantastic night. Times like these I feel really lucky to live in D.C.

Thanks again Jackie!


Sea Scallops with Bean Fricassee (inspired by Daniel Boulud)

It has been a little over a year since the historic dinner at Daniel, the day that Kitchen Monkey proposed to the missus. Reminiscing about that phenomenal meal got me wondering what Daniel Boulud Recipes might be floating around on the web. I found this one, though it is heavily adapted to what I could find at Whole Foods (seriously, who in the hell carries rice paper flakes?) This was fairly easy, very tasty, and I will definitely make it again.

serves 4

The Pesto
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

The Bean Fricassee
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 cups haricots verts, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup good fresh tomato, chopped
2/3 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

The Scallops
1 lb. sea scallops
1 1/2 cups slivered & blanched almonds, chopped
1 egg, beaten
extra virgin olive oil

(1) Make the pesto by placing garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Puree, then add basil and puree. Add olive oil slowly. Salt to taste. Set pesto aside (but not in fridge).
Fricassee and Scallops
(2) Heat olive oil on medium high in a large saucepan, then add shallot and sautee until carmelized, add garlic and sautee for a few minutes more.
(3) Add both types of beans to the pot and stir well to coat with oil. Cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes.
(4) Add tomatoes, stir, cook for 3 more minutes.
(5) Add white wine and chicken stock, bring to simmer.
(6) Continue simmering until the harictos verts are still slightly firm but nearly cooked.
(7) Pour in strainer, reserving juice. Set beans aside and place juice back in saucepan, reduce over high heat, to about 2/3 volume.
(8) As sauce is reducing, coat each scallop lightly in the beaten egg, then roll in the chopped and slivered almonds to coat.
(9) Once all scallops are coated, heat olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat. Add scallops and sautee for about 3-4 minutes on one side, until almonds brown. Turn over with a pair of tongs, and sautee on the other side for another few minutes.
(10) As scallops are cooking, return beans to the reduced stock/wine sauce until beans are heated through. Salt and Pepper to taste.
(11) To plate, spoon the fricassee in the center, and top with 3 or 4 scallops. Drizzle pesto around the edges.