Alaska Pollock: The Forgotten Protein

When it comes to picking and choosing seafood, many customers look past this healthy, Responsible Choice protein. For many years, pollock was known as the cheapest option in seafood and was widely consumed by households, schools and local fish fries in the form of fish sticks and fried fish.

Alaska pollock is slowly gaining momentum and returning to the table in different forms. From surimi to trendy fish tacos, it is the most versatile of all whitefish varieties. Alaska pollock is easy to prepare, delivering a mild, appealing flavor with consistent snow-white flesh and a tender texture that has excellent flaking qualities, meeting the taste preferences of consumers who prefer more delicate fish. Alaska pollock is delicious poached, baked, broiled, steamed, sautéed or deep-fried, and can be paired with any number of flavors and ingredients.

Alaska’s most abundant seafood species, genuine Alaska pollock is a member of the cod family—not to be confused with Atlantic pollock, which is darker, oilier and ‘fishier’ tasting. The most versatile of the Alaska whitefish varieties, Alaska pollock holds its own in a variety of different preparations.

If you are looking for a low-cost, good-tasting, healthy protein, look no further than this Alaska species. Visit Hy-Vee today and select Alaska pollock and all the other ingredients you need for a delicious and healthy meal.

2017 North American Seafood Expo in Boston

The 2017 Seafood Expo North America was held March 19 – 21. Representatives from Hy-Vee, PDI and FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit sustainable seafood partner, made the trip to Boston to experience the second-largest seafood industry trade show in the world. This year’s show was the largest ever, with more than 1,300 companies ­– representing 53 countries – exhibiting. Companies presented their seafood products, services or processing equipment.

The Hy-Vee, PDI and FishWise teams had productive meetings with many of Hy-Vee’s current and potential new seafood suppliers, gathering information, exchanging updates and discussing plans for the future. The seafood team also met with a number of groups focused on expanding socially-responsible seafood, including Fair Trade USA and the International Pole and Line Foundation.

The conference featured more than 25 educational sessions presented by top seafood industry experts, covering the most important and timely issues relevant to today’s seafood business environment. One of the most notable of these sessions was titled “Navigating Seafood Trade and Legislation in 2017.” Moderated by FishWise, the session provided information to ensure that seafood companies are compliant with trade laws and legislation, specifically the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

The Hy-Vee seafood team enjoyed having the opportunity to thank its seafood suppliers in person for doing their part to ensure continued compliance with Hy-Vee’s lofty Responsible Choice standards. We’re excited to work with the new vendors we met and to offer new information and new products to Hy-Vee’s customers.

To find out more about the show, visit the Seafood Expo website: http://www.seafoodexpo.com/north-america/conference

Responsible Choice Alaska Halibut

March typically kicks off spring and warmer grilling weather, but in
Alaska, this marks the opening season for harvesting Pacific halibut. Braving the elements of Mother Nature, Alaska halibut long-liners make their way out in the rough waters in hopes of landing this first-of-the-season catch.

Considered the “steak of seafood,” Alaska halibut has earned its reputation as the world’s premium whitefish for its firm white, flaky texture and sweet delicate flavor. Halibut is considered one the most versatile fish, and the thick, meaty texture can hold up to a number of cooking methods and sauces. When the season opens in March, seafoodies around the country look forward to adding this prized fish to their menus, fresh seafood counters and dinner tables.

When it comes to managing fisheries, no one does it better than the state of Alaska. Many years ago, the halibut season consisted of derby-style fishing methods, meaning there were predetermined, very competitive fishing periods that were 24 to 48 hours in length, sometimes in dangerous weather conditions. Now, the International Pacific Halibut Commission meets every year to examine scientific data in an effort to ensure that this fishery can maintain a healthy stock for future generations to enjoy. Due to these tight management practices, quotas and strict harvesting method, you find Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice logo displayed on all of our fresh Alaska halibut.

Our Responsible Choice halibut is some of the freshest you can get in the Midwest.  All of our Alaska halibut is flown in overnight from Alaska to Des Moines International Airport, where it is then delivered to Hy-Vee’s PDI Distribution center in Ankeny, Iowa. The halibut then goes through our strict USDC Inspection Program before it is ready to be shipped out to stores that very day. Depending on your store’s delivery schedule, the halibut on your plate may be less than 72 hours from being out of the water. Now that is fresh!

Ginger-Orange Responsible Choice Shrimp

Serves 4

All you need:

    • 1 pound Responsible Choice Shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 2 tsp Tony Chachere seasoning
    • 1 tbsp butter
      1 tbsp olive oil
      3 tsp peeled and minced ginger
    •  2 tbsp brown sugar
      1 tsp dry mustard
    • 1 cup orange juice
      2 tsp finely grated orange zest
    • 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onion
      salt and pepper to taste

All you do:

  1. Season the shrimp with Tony Chachere seasoning set aside in a bowl.
  2. In a sauté pan, melt butter. Add olive oil and ginger and mix while on the heat for about 1 minute.
  3. Add brown sugar and dry mustard; stir and blend well. Add orange juice and zest bring to a simmer.
  4. Add green onion and shrimp and cook till done, about 5 minutes. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Think Healthy, Think Local

Nestled in America’s Heartland – an area typically known for its endless rows of corn fields – lies one of the largest state-of-the-art aquaculture farms of its kind. VeroBlue Farms in Blairsburg, Iowa, raises one of the healthiest seafood species available today: “America’s Sea Bass” or barramundi.

When it comes to a farmed species, barramundi is just about perfect. VeroBlue’s proprietary aquaculture system creates a self-contained, nourishing environment where the fish grow firm and meaty for remarkably great taste, with no impact on the environment or disruption of nature. Using the natural elements of air, water and care, VeroBlue can replicate perfect growing conditions, allowing the fish to thrive. This provides seafood that’s delicious, healthy and extraordinarily sustainable. Because the fish are raised in VeroBlue’s ultramodern self-contained environment, they have no environmental impacts and receive Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice logo of approval.

VeroBlue Farms’ land-based, farm-raised barramundi deliver a one-of-a-kind flavor that has quickly become a favorite of many fish lovers. Similar to wild-caught coho salmon, barramundi is also a natural source of beneficial heart and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the healthiest proteins to eat.

From the beginning, Hy-Vee has helped and supported this Iowa-based company by offering its sustainable barramundi to consumers. Consumers today want local, fresh and sustainable seafood options. VeroBlue’s facilities are less than 90 miles away from Hy-Vee’s fresh distribution center in Ankeny, Iowa.

Not only can you find this fresh, delicious fish behind the Hy-Vee seafood counter, but you can also find it featured on Hy-Vee’s Market Grille seasonal menu.

To learn more about VeroBlue Farms, click here to visit their website.

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.