Seafood Education: Questions for the Fishmonger

Working as a Hy-Vee fishmonger for more than 20 years, I have received my share of customer questions. I thought I would take a moment to answer a few of the most common questions that we get day in and day out here at the Hy-Vee seafood counter.

  • Q: How much shrimp do I need for my party?
  • A: People will eat as much shrimp as you serve them. You can offer shrimp with almost every other appetizer and people will circle the shrimp like sharks! I suggest purchasing as much shrimp as your budget can afford, and call it good. I also suggest putting the shrimp out in stages, as opposed to putting it all out at once. This will help stretch your shrimp throughout the party as well, as guests will eat other items until the next plate comes out!
  • Q: What type of salmon do I want?
  • A: I think it depends on what types of salmon are available at that particular moment. If fresh, wild salmon is in season, then I tell customers to go wild! If we are outside of fresh salmon season, then I suggest Mt. Cook farm-raised King salmon. Another option is previously frozen Alaskan Sockeye. Of course, we always offer the Verlasso farm-raised salmon in portions and filets all year, and they are incredibly consistent in both flavor and texture.
  • Q: The sign next to the salmon says “color-added.” Is that bad?
  • A: When some people see “color-added” they think that the fish are injected with food coloring. I like to take the time to explain how the salmon actually have color added to them. Wild salmon get their color by eating krill and shrimp. Think about the color of cooked shrimp, and you will understand why salmon is red to orange in color. However, farm-raised salmon don’t get the luxury of dining on shrimp and krill. They get a food pellet that gives them everything a growing salmon needs except for a colorful flesh. The key component in shrimp and krill that gives them the vibrant color is called astaxanthin. This has to be added to the farmed salmon’s food pellets in order to get that orange color. If it was not added to their food, the flesh would be white to gray in color. The astaxanthin is added by either natural ingredients like algae and/or pulverized crustaceans, or by synthetic compounds. Either way, it allows the farm-raised product to closely resemble their wild counterparts.
  • Q: I heard on television or I read that….. (You can fill in the blank)
  • A: Every week we get people asking about a news report saying how bad a particular fish is, how bad fish from a particular country is, or how bad farmed anything is. Here’s my response: Hy-Vee hired its own U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) lot inspector to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood it buys. The USDC inspector is stationed onsite at the PDI distribution facility in Ankeny, Iowa, where he routinely checks incoming shipments of fresh seafood, ensuring that it meets Hy-Vee’s standards. Our purchasing and sustainability policy is the strictest around. Our seafood team at PDI is meticulous in its sourcing and accountability of our suppliers. Nothing gets past us. If we get tilapia from China, it has to be good. Just because the news report said all Chinese fish is bad, does not necessarily make it so. Our farm-raised fish and shrimp are raised by the best companies in the world for sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. I say TRUST us. We’ve got this. We worry about these things so you don’t have to.

Responsible Choice Shrimp & Veggie Potsticker Stir-Fry

Serves 4.

All you need:

  • 1/2 cup Hy-Vee stir fry sauce
  • 2 tsp Hy-Vee sriracha sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 (9.4 oz) box frozen vegetable potstickers, thawed
  • 8 oz (51-60 count) peeled and deveined Responsible Choice shrimp
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cups diced green cabbage

All you do:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together stir fry sauce and sriracha sauce; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the potstickers and cook until lightly browned on all sides, 3-5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons water to the pan, cover and cook until the water has evaporated and the potstickers are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  3. In same sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté for 3-4 minutes; transfer to plate holding potstickers and keep warm.
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat and add green onions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the snap peas, shredded carrot, red pepper, red onion and green cabbage. Sauté vegetables for 2 minutes or until crisp tender.
  5. Add the stir fry sauce mixture and toss to combine. Return the potstickers and shrimp to the pan and toss with the vegetables.

Fair Trade Tuna Announcement

Hy-Vee officially announced this week that it has successfully transitioned 100 percent of its service case tuna to Fair Trade Certified™ in all 244 of its stores. Hy-Vee guarantees that all tuna on ice at its seafood counters is caught in a way that supports fishing communities and does not harm the oceans or jeopardize tuna populations.

“Hy-Vee works hard to provide the very best in seafood for our customers,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables. “We put a lot of effort into finding top-quality, fresh seafood and ensuring it is responsibly sourced and available at a fair price.”

Hy-Vee is partnering with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, in the effort. The Fair Trade Certified™ seal recognizes best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood. As part of Hy-Vee’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, it’s working to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.

According to Fair Trade USA, Hy-Vee is the only retailer currently putting forth an effort of this magnitude.
Tuna sold in the fresh case at Hy-Vee is caught with hand-held fishing lines, minimizing the odds of accidentally harming other marine life and ensuring the long-term sustainability of tuna and other sea life. While tuna stocks need to be sustained, so do the people who fish for tuna. Many fishermen are financially insecure and vulnerable. Hy-Vee is committed to sourcing only from Fair Trade tuna purveyors for its tuna in the fresh case.

“The most powerful part of Fair Trade is that it allows shoppers to cast a vote for healthy oceans, worker empowerment and responsible business with every purchase,” said Jenna Larson, senior communications manager at Fair Trade USA.

The news follows Hy-Vee’s announcement of its expanded Seafood Procurement Policy, which now includes shelf-stable tuna. The policy was developed in partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

“FishWise applauds Hy-Vee’s recent advance in Fair Trade Certified™ tuna,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “This milestone is important in assuring responsibly sourced seafood that also promotes the well-being of fishers who rely on healthy fish stocks, and it sets a noteworthy precedent for the industry.

Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade and additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.

Creole Sauce Featuring Responsible Choice Shrimp

All you need:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced green bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 2 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 28-oz cans Hy-Vee diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 pound (41-50 count) Responsible Choice Gulf shrimp
  • 1 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

All you do:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottom saucepot. Add red and green peppers, celery, onion and 2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning. Cook over medium high heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add hot sauce. Adjust seasoning as preferred. Set aside.
  4. Season shrimp with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning.
  5. Heat canola oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. When a light haze forms above the oil, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add Creole sauce (prepared in steps 1-3) to shrimp and bring to a light simmer when shrimp are pink approximately 6-7 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.

Clam Chowder Day Recipe

Serves 8

All you need:

  • 15 raw clams (2 to 2-1/2 pounds) or 6 oz canned clams
  • add 5 (8 oz each) bottles clam juice
  • add 10 slices Hy-Vee bacon, chopped
  • add 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • add 4 tbsp Hy-Vee butter
  • add 1 c. Hy-Vee flour
  • add 5 medium Hy-Vee russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • add 1/2 c. Hy-Vee skim milk
  • add 1/2 c. Hy-Vee half-and-half
  • add 1 tsp Hy-Vee salt
  • add Hy-Vee ground black pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. If using raw clams, soak in fresh water for 20 minutes. Scrub shells. In a stock pot with lid, bring 1 cup water to boiling. Add clams and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, removing the clams as they open. Discard any that do not open. Remove clams from shells, chop and set aside; discard shells.
  2. Heat clam juice in a large saucepan on medium heat.
  3. Fry bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove and crumble bacon, reserving drippings. Add onions to skillet. Cook over medium heat until translucent. Add butter, bacon and flour to onions and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.
  4. Increase heat on clam juice to medium-high. Add onion mixture to saucepan while whisking continuously. Continue stirring to ensure no lumps form. Add clams and stir. Add potatoes, milk, half-and-half and salt.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Season to taste with black pepper.

Responsible Choice Lobster Tails

When it comes to sourcing Responsible Choice spiny lobster tails, Hy-Vee looks to the mecca of the Caribbean – the Bahamas. The Bahamas are known for their breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters, but in these waters lies a rich, environmentally responsible source of spiny lobsters. These creatures play a huge role in the economy of the Bahamas and they rely on a strict management process to maintain this resource for future generations to enjoy.

Unlike American lobsters, spiny lobsters have a spiny hard shell for protection and lack large front claws. These warm-water lobster tails are smooth and have a spotted, greenish shell. Their soft texture and delicate flavor make them a favorite among chefs and foodies around the world.

In the Bahamas’ spiny lobster fishery, “condominiums” – or “casitas” – are placed by fisherman on the sea floor. Spiny lobsters seek shelter beneath this protective enclosure. Over time these man-made structures have become a permanent habitat for marine life, including the spiny lobsters. Divers from skiff boats dive down and lift up these condos and harvest lobsters that have a carapace length of at least 3.25 inches. Hooks are used to pull the lobsters out from under the condo. The lobsters are then carried to the surface where they are immediately placed in ice holds on the skiff. Once aboard the skiff, the tails are removed and they’re delivered to the mother-ship. Once full, the ship heads back to the mainland where they are processed, tested, cleaned, graded, frozen and then packed into 10-pound cases for delivery to the United States.

Upon arrival in the U.S., Hy-Vee requires that the lobsters are U.S.D.C. inspected to ensure that they are of the best quality before selling them to our customers to enjoy.

If you’re still in need of a dinner that will “wow” your valentine, stop at your local Hy-Vee seafood counter and ask for these fresh and delicious tails from Bahamas lobsters, which are featured in this week’s ad. You can even share the lobster’s story with your sweetheart and tell him or her that you made a Responsible Choice for them.

Hy-Vee Paves Way in Sustainable Seafood with New Shelf-Stable Tuna Policy

Hy-Vee is reinforcing its commitment to responsibly sourced seafood by announcing the expansion of its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna. The news comes one year after Hy-Vee met its goal to source 100 percent of its fresh and private label frozen seafood from responsible sources, and three years after Hy-Vee unveiled its Responsible Choice seafood labeling program.

“Shelf-stable tuna is a challenging and complex category, but we are committed to taking positive and meaningful steps to be part of the solution,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at
Hy-Vee. “By establishing a policy for our shelf-stable tuna, we are initiating the next phase of Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood journey.”

Hy-Vee’s expanded Seafood Procurement Policy states that it is committed to sourcing shelf-stable tuna from fisheries that are (in order of preference): 1) certified by the Marine Stewardship Council with supply chain traceability (Chain of Custody); and/or 2) Green or Yellow rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; and/or engaged in fishery improvement projects making measurable and time-bound progress.
Hy-Vee’s policy relies on these internationally recognized sustainability programs and guidelines because they incorporate criteria and standards that address the biggest issues in tuna sustainability, including overfishing of tuna stocks, bycatch of non-target species, habitat and ecosystem impacts, and management effectiveness.

The Hy-Vee Seafood Procurement Policy also includes language recognizing the importance of traceability to ensure seafood is from legal and verifiable sources, the responsibility to uphold human rights in its seafood supply chains and the need to support and engage in initiatives to drive positive outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production.

“As we enter the fourth year of our Responsible Choice seafood program, Hy-Vee remains dedicated to doing business in a manner that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment,” Bremser said. “We recognize that in order to continue achieving our mission, we need to stay ahead of emerging issues.”

In 2013, due to concerns over the high levels of bycatch in fish aggregating device-associated purse seine fisheries and in longline tuna fisheries, Hy-Vee developed two Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified
Hy-Vee Select canned tuna products. Moving forward, Hy-Vee will work with its suppliers to improve the environmental, traceability and social responsibility of all shelf-stable tuna products it sells.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy was developed in partnership with FishWise. We are a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

FishWise commends Hy-Vee’s willingness to begin identifying and addressing the environmental and social impacts of its shelf-stable tuna supply chains. The expanded Seafood Procurement Policy paves the way for more sustainable tuna options in the aisles of Hy-Vee stores and sets an ambitious example for other companies to follow.

Responsible Choice Clam Chowder

Serves 6

All you need:

  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 (12 oz) package salt pork, skin removed and diced
  • 1 pound butter
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 quart clam juice (Note: You can use the clam juice strained from your clams)
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste (5-10 drops)
  • 2 cups Responsible Choice clams, chopped

All you do:

  1. Add diced potatoes to a pot, and add just enough water to top the potatoes. Boil until tender, then keep potatoes in the water but remove from heat.
  2. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat add salt pork and render out fat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly brown.
  3. To the salt pork pan, add butter, onions and celery. Cook for 20 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add flour and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 quart of clam juice and stir constantly until thick. Add remaining clam juice.
  5. Add milk and potatoes, including the water used for boiling.
  6. Cook mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so as not to let mixture stick to the bottom. If the soup starts to stick, take off heat and let rest for 10 minutes, then resume cooking. Soup will taste starchy if not fully cooked.
  7. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and Responsible Choice clams. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with crackers and salted butter.

Responsible Choice Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

This week’s Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood ad gives you the perfect opportunity to try this recipe. Our fresh, delicious Responsible Choice salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways. I suggest cooking a salmon filet in a pan with a little oil, three minutes a side, turning only once over medium to medium-high heat. Alternatively, bake the salmon in a 350-degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, checking for an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

When the salmon is done, spoon Chimichurri Sauce (recipe below) over the filet and enjoy. This sauce also makes a great topping for cooked tuna.

Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 4.

All you need:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Juice of 2 limes

All you do:

  1. Add the rough-chopped onion and oil into the blender and pulse until fine.
  2. Add vinegar, cilantro, garlic, seasonings and lime juice to the blender. Blend to the point where it is a thick green liquid.
  3. Let stand for 2 to 3 hours before serving. It will improve over time. Keep in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Verlasso Salmon: Responsibly Sourced

Verlasso

At Hy-Vee, we value excellence in our suppliers. Verlasso offers a more consciously-farmed, premium salmon that meets our high standards of taste and quality.

Verlasso puts the health of its salmon first. The Verlasso crew raises their salmon in the beautiful, pristine waters of Patagonia, Chile. There’s very little industrial development in Patagonia, so the water is free of pollutants. This area is in the lowest region of Chile, away from industrialized farms, creating the perfect environment for fish.

The salmon also have lots of room to swim and to grow. Verlasso’s ocean pens are spacious, with fewer than four salmon, which surpasses other producer standards. The pens are widely spaced, and after each harvest period, Verlasso leaves them empty for a period of 3 to 6 months so the water can rejuvenate. The ocean waters are 60 to 80 meters deep, with a strong tidal flow for optimal salmon growth. Verlasso doesn’t use hormones and allows its fish to grow to harvest size over a period of two years.

Verlasso has also reduced the number of wild-caught feeder fish it uses. The quantity of small fish like sardines, anchovies and mackerel has been reduced by 66 percent to reduce the depletion of oceanic resources.

The company’s salmon are raised and harvested entirely on site, where the company takes pride in being able to track every moment of their lives. Verlasso can trace its fish back seven generations. Once harvested, a gill tag is put on every fillet and whole fish so that customers can learn about the region the fish come from and learn more about the farm.

Verlasso’s goal is to minimize stress in their fishes’ lives up to and including harvest, so they are as healthy as possible. The company’s harvest approach is to minimize trauma—and preserve quality. The mission at Verlasso is adaptation; its employees are committed to continuous improvement in an effort to make the harvesting of fish more sustainable for the long term.

Verlasso salmon has a bright and delicate flavor. With slightly more fat content than wild salmon and a higher moisture content, the result is a buttery yet firm texture. This extra moisture also makes it delightful to cook. Verlasso’s levels of omega-3 are ideal for a heart-healthy diet.

Verlasso is the first Atlantic salmon to receive a Good Buy Alternative “Yellow Rating” from the Monterey Bay Aquarium® Seafood Watch®. Stop in at your local Hy-Vee and talk with the seafood experts about the quality of Verlasso salmon and try some of this delicious fish!