Key Takeaway from Seafood Expo in Boston: Sustainability is Expected, No Longer a Hot, In-Your-Face Topic

One of the greatest opportunities at the Seafood Expo North America (formerly the Boston Seafood Show) was found in the chance to talk face-to-face with the approximately 19,000 suppliers, processors and other professionals from around the world who attend this event.

Establishing that rapport makes the follow-up conversations much easier and more congenial.

For me, the key takeaway from the event in Boston is that sustainability isn’t the in-your-face, hot topic that it used to be. Everyone may not quite meet the same high standards that Hy-Vee and PDI have set with the Responsible Choice initiative, but everyone takes for granted that companies care about sustainability and are doing something about it. This is driven some by consumer demand, but primarily it’s due to competition for business between companies.

It was great to meet those domestic suppliers, the folks with boats on the water and processing plants, who are working directly with PDI and Hy-Vee to provide Alaskan King crab, wild salmon, because promotions around those species have been successful at bringing customers’ attention to Responsible Choice seafood.

At FishWise, we work with some of the better-acting companies and they are doing a great deal to advance conservation. These seafood suppliers from Alaska, who are leading the world in setting the standards for sustainability, appreciate that Hy-Vee is very direct about what its environmental standards are what companies need to provide for them.

They love that Hy-Vee does so much to draw attention to the way they do things. They know Hy-Vee appreciates quality. It’s kind of a mutual admiration society, which is rare.

At the expo, I also met with leaders of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, a certifying organization like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), to connect them with Hy-Vee and other distributors and help them better understand where the other is coming from. It’s a tough topic, because so many people are under the impression that farmed fish is not sustainable in any way, and we need to work to overcome that stereotype. The folks at GAA are very open to dialogue, and that will help to move it along.

Another prominent event during the Seafood Show was a panel discussion focused on improvement projects that companies like Hy-Vee and its vendors are supporting, like wild gulf shrimp. The shrimping industry can be dirty and have a lot of issues, yet customers want shrimp. Hy-Vee is doing the right thing by supporting practices that reduce turtle bycatch. The vendor Hy-Vee works with is making sure there’s a smaller amount of turtle bycatch in its fisheries.

Recipe Spotlight: Have a Taste of Summer with These Wild Salmon Recipes

In a winter that seems to have gone on and on, here are two recipes featuring Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice frozen wild salmon that will fast forward to the summer months.

One of my favorite recipes is Grilled Salmon with Blueberry and Corn Relish. I like it because it’s colorful – I’m all about color – and because you can get your fruit, vegetables and protein all at the same time.

When cooking, I always make sure everything looks appealing so you don’t have to garnish and it looks artistic without even having to try.

This combination is something you might not think about, but once you’ve tried it, I think you’ll like it. A lot of people pair salmon with mango or a fresh pico, but this is like a blueberry pico de gallo.

Another great recipe as warm weather months approach is grilled wild salmon served on flatbread and garnished with a refreshing cucumber relish. Very much like a salmon gyro, it’s a nice fresh, crunchy and light sandwich for summer.

When we sampled this to customers, we got a nice response. They liked the freshness and because it’s light, it made them think of summer.


Grilled Wild Salmon with Corn and Blueberry Relish

All you need:

  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced finely
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 4 (5 oz each) wild salmon fillets
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. To cook the corn, place in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes. Cool and cut the kernels from the cob.
  2. To prepare the relish, add the red onion, blueberries and jalapeno to the corn.
  3. In a Mason jar or shaker with lid, shake together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and cumin. Pour over the relish and stir well.
  4. To grill the salmon, heat grill to high. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon, skin-side-down, with the cover closed, until golden brown and a crust has formed, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Turn the salmon over and continue grilling for 3 to 4 minutes for medium doneness.
  6. Place salmon on a plate and add one-fourth the relish to each filet.

Grilled Wild Salmon Sandwiches with a Cucumber Relish

All you need:

Cucumber Relish

  • 1 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Roma tomato, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Dill Yogurt Sauce

  • nutritionFacts1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp dill weed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Salmon

  • 6 (5 oz each) wild salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 pita breads

All you do:

  1. To prepare the cucumber relish, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl until incorporated. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the dill yogurt sauce, combine mayonnaise and Greek yogurt in another bowl. Stir in dill weed, garlic, celery salt and pepper; set aside.
  3. To grill the wild salmon, heat grill to high. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon, skin-side-down, with the cover closed, until golden brown and a crust has formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the salmon over and continue grilling for 3 to 4 minutes for medium doneness.
  4. To prepare the sandwich, grill the pitas for 30 to 45 seconds on each side. Remove the pitas from the grill. Add about 1 tablespoon of the dill yogurt sauce to half of each pita. Place 1 grilled salmon filet on top of the sauce, and place some of the cucumber relish on top of each one.

What was That Fish? Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Initiative Means New Varieties are Showing Up in the Seafood Case

As Hy-Vee moves toward its self-imposed deadline to responsibly source all of its fresh and Hy-Vee brand frozen seafood by the end of 2015, customers will begin seeing some new varieties in the seafood case.

One variety our customers may not be familiar with is sablefish. Fisheries in Alaska have been harvesting this tasty, buttery fish since the 1800s, and new management practices have eliminated some of the problems that nearly depleted sablefish populations in the 1970s.

Before practices changed to trawl-and-pot, the fisheries used longline methods. The whales really love it because it’s very tasty, and they would eat the fish right off the lines, decimating the fisheries’ catch – a whale’s going to do what a whale’s going to do.

You’ll love it, too. Sablefish, which some people know as black cod, is one of best fish out there to eat, but one of the reasons people haven’t heard much about sablefish is that large quantities are shipped overseas to Japan, where there’s a high reverence for it.

Sablefish, like halibut, has a relatively short season, but it’s in season now, so we’ll be able to get it fresh in our stores.

Hy-Vee is also getting a farm-raised salmon that has earned the go-ahead from Monterey Bay and bears our Responsible Choice seal of approval. There are myriad issues related to farm-raised salmon, so it often gets all lumped together. But Verlasso, an Atlantic farm-raised salmon raised in Chile away from development is an exception.

Two big issues with farm-raised salmon are that the fish are grown in high densities, creating a high risk of the transmission of diseases to native salmon populations, and also that the feed contains an unsustainably high amount of wild fish, making it a lose-lose proposition. But Verlasso salmon is penned with 50 percent less fish, and the fish meal has been replaced with a meal that is rich in Omega-3, but has 75 percent less fish in the meal. They’re switching out the protein, but the fish still has the same texture and is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. And there’s no net loss to the environment.

Verlasso salmon should be available in our stores by April 1.

We’ve also added Idaho Rainbow Trout from Clear Springs Foods, which I’ve previously blogged about. Clear Springs is the only trout supplier we’re featuring now. We had some others that weren’t as environmentally friendly, so this is a big change that comes with Hy-Vee’s commitment to responsibly source our seafood.

Currently, there is no farm-raised shrimp that meet Responsible Choice standards, but because shrimp is such a popular item, we’re eager to provide one for our customers. We’re getting in a cooked shrimp from Belize that is farmed in a closed system that pumps in fresh water, and the shrimp aren’t packed in as densely as at some other farms. It hasn’t hit the rating system yet.

It’s hard to read the crystal ball to determine when Monterey Bay will evaluate a species, but one thing customers can feel confident about is that, overall, we’re getting better items, even if we can’t immediately label them as Responsible Choice. The fisheries know the bar has been raised.

We’re also getting in Responsible Choice swai, which is like catfish, coming out of Vietnam. Protectionist legislation by U.S. catfish farmers means this mild white fish must be marketed under another name, so you may have seen it marketed as basa, though that’s an entirely different fish, or even under the shortened version of its scientific name, Pangasius hypophthalmus.

Another best choice-rated fish is Arctic Char, a cross between salmon and trout. It’s very tasty and has many of the characteristics of both species. It’s farm-raised in the deep, cold waters of glacial lakes, and you’ll occasionally find that in our case.

We’ve also switched to a Responsible Choice mahi mahi, a very good fish for grilling. That’s Yellow rated, as is the grouper, flounder and sole we will be getting in.

We expect to see many more new items coming in that may introduce our customers to fish they’ve never had before. It’s a process. The warehouse can’t just turn on a dime, because they have to get the assurances and checks and balances in place to make sure the fish is what the suppliers say it is.

This shows that we’re following the Responsible Choice initiative letter by letter. We’re not taking shortcuts or just assuming it’s right. Hy-Vee’s commitment is more than just words.

Cheers! Choose the Right Wine and Beer to Complement Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Seafood

Whether wine or beer, the beverage paired with Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood is as important to its taste as the spices and sauces used in the preparation of the fish.

Sue Navratil here:
One of my favorite seafood choices is Pacific halibut. It’s easy to prepare and has a delicate, almost sweet taste. There are many wines that go well with halibut and other white fish, but one of the best is an unoaked chardonnay.

These wines have brighter fruit, they’re not heavy and laden with oak and butter, and their fruit shines through for a clean, crisp taste.

Some other good choices:

  • Dry roses have nice acidity and a bit of fruit that will complement that bit of sweetness and delicate taste of the halibut.
  • Dry chenin blanc. When dry chenins are their best, they will have a bit of sweetness of the grape. The wine is still dry, so it leaves the palate nice and clean.
  • Beaujolais. This wine from the Beaujolais region of France has a very light body and is dry and fruity. It has more body than a dry rose and has nice fruit, but not a lot of sugar to get in the way of the flavors of the fish. It’s also a bit more delicate, so it’s nice to pair with delicate fish.

The old adage that only white wine is paired with fish isn’t necessarily true. Many white wines do accompany fish well, but so will red wines with nice acidity, a light to medium body and low tannins.

With Responsible Source-labeled salmon, tuna and some of the meatier fishes, you can get into some red wines for sure. Pinot Noir has wonderful fruit and strong acidity that make it pair well with food in general, but with fish especially well because it doesn’t have all those heavy tannins.

Chardonnays with some nice butter and oak work especially well with salmon because it’s a fairly fatty fish. When you pair them, those buttery textures in the chardonnay and the fat in the salmon are a nice complement.

Go with a California pinot noir for tuna, a dense, meaty fish. Even if it’s only seared and is still a bit rare in the center, it has a meaty texture so it can handle the heavier body and riper fruit in these wines.

Rieslings, which have a drier, clean, crisp and almost citrusy taste, are good to pair with fish prepared with wasabi or spicy Thai seasonings. A taste of sweet, cool Riesling soothes and helps correct that crazy taste sensation you get with wasabi.

Champagne is also great with any fish that’s prepared tartare.

About the Author
I’m Sue Navratil, and I am a certified specialist of wine (CWS), which I earned by passing a rigorous exam through the Society of Wine Educators. There are only seven of us in the Hy-Vee system.

I work in the North Ankeny Boulevard Hy-Vee store. I love my job. Besides getting to work every day with wine, which is my passion, I help customers learn about wine and choose wine for their events, and facilitate their events by pouring wine.

I do a monthly wine club at the store and other occasional special wine events. I also write my own personal wine blog, naviwine.blogspot.com, which features wines that are available in my store.


Brian here:
The idea of pairing is for the dish and the beer to complement each other and make a new experience. Both can be great experiences on their own, but when you pair well, you end up with a truly exceptional dining experience.

The same principles used in wine pairing apply when choosing a beer to serve with fish. The important thing is to find something complementary that will not overpower the delicate nature of the seafood.

A lot of fish is very light, with a bright flavor and often made citrusy with lemon condiments and sauces.

With lighter white fishes, I like to serve crisp wheats. Two good ones are Boulevard Wheat or Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat. Both of these American wheats are crisp and citrusy, so they lend themselves well to seafood. And they will cut through the butter, if you’re topping it with a creamy sauce, and bring out the brightness of the fish.

Pale ales, such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Mirror Pond from Deschutes Brewery, are also good for delicate white fish, like Pacific halibut.

I wouldn’t move too much out of the American wheats or American pale ales. They all have that citrusy note that lends itself well to any of the seafood. If you waiver too much, the beer will be overpowering and wash out the flavor of the fish.

As you move on to heartier fish, you want to step up the depth of beer. Shellfish can handle something maltier, like an IPA. Try to match the strength of the beer with the dish. The main thing is to make sure they work together.

For more traditional pairings, porters (like Central Waters Muddy Puppy Porter) and stouts (old-world Guinness is a good one) have a rich caramel quality that accentuates the creamy aspect of the seafood. Oysters and stouts go great together.

Responsible Choice Seafood from Alaska, a World Model for Sustainability, Sells Itself

All of our Responsible Choice products meet high standards and Hy-Vee’s commitment to bring customers the freshest, best-quality fish and seafood available today, but seafood from Alaska is in a league of its own.

Throw the name “Alaska” in front of a species of fish and it sells itself and stands for a high quality that is unmatched. Customers feel confident purchasing fish they know is from Alaska, whether it’s Alaskan king crab, salmon, Pacific halibut or black cod.

Customers know where it comes from – some of the cleanest, purest waters anywhere – and they know it’s not only safe to eat, but has superior flavor and texture as well. The flavor is a result of the fish feeding on a natural diet of marine organisms and the texture comes from their annual migrations in the cold waters of the North Pacific.

Alaska’s seafood industry, the state’s largest private-sector employer, is a world model of seafood sustainability and fisheries management – and has been for 50 years. Continuing that livelihood – and a healthy supply of fish and healthy oceans for generations to come – is so important that the Alaska Constitution mandates that fish are “utilized, developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle.”

The quota system is well managed and the fisheries live and die by it. Once their quota is met, they’re done. As a result of these practices, no species of Alaska seafood has ever been red-listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The Pacific halibut and black cod (sablefish) harvest season just opened, and limits have been set at 16.8 million pounds before the season ends in November. Alaska has more than 95 percent of the Pacific halibut and catches are closely monitored. In the last few years, they’ve cut back on the amount of halibut to ensure the availability of this favorite – the largest of the flatfish, known for its mild flavor and firm texture.

Salmon is one of the most popular seafoods in the world. People live for it. King salmon is in season year-round, but the seasons for sockeye, coho, keta and pink salmon generally run May-September. The fisheries take great care to manage the populations during spawning season, allowing significant numbers to escape so they can make it up river to spawn.

As a result of these time-tested management practices, the fisheries have been able to make abundant salmon harvests for more than three decades.

When Hy-Vee launched its Responsible Choice initiative – our pledge that by the end of 2015, all of our high-quality fresh and Hy-Vee brand frozen seafood will be responsibly caught – it was no big deal for the three vendors we work with in Alaska.

Alaska knows they are doing it right. They get it.

Recipe Spotlight: Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Will Change Your Mind About Farm-Raised Fish

Farm-raised cold-water fish like salmon can get a bad rap. Conventional wisdom is that it can have a different taste than wild salmon, but advances in aquaculture are closing the gap.

One of the best options in the Hy-Vee seafood case is Mt. Cook Alpine salmon, which is disrupting expectations about farm-raised salmon in a big way. This fish is raised in a canal fed by glacier runoff from New Zealand’s Southern Alps. There’s no human interaction in these clean, fast-flowing waters, no runoff from human activities and the water is so pure that you can drink it both before and after the fish leave.

The fish in these waters are disease-free; never get antibiotics, hormones or other chemicals; and are killed in a humane way that minimizes unnecessary stress and pain, a method that ensures better flesh quality.

Mt. Cook salmon is also incredibly healthy. The Omega-3 fatty acids in this fish are comparable with wild-caught salmon, and have three times the amount of Omega 3 oils as Atlantic salmon and in comparison, has very low intramuscular fat.

This flavor of this fish is so clean that I hate to mask it with heavy sauces. Just make a light crust of seasonings, sear the fish and finish it off in the oven. Try this:


Seared Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon with Garlic Spinach

All you need:

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 (5 oz each) Mt. Cook salmon fillets, skinned
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon

All you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cumin, dry mustard and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture on the top side (non-skin) of the salmon fillets.
  3. Heat an oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear fillets, rub-side down, until fish is browned, about 2 minutes. Flip fillets and place pan in oven; finish cooking for 5 to 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
  4. While fish is in oven, heat another sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter, shallots and garlic. Sauté until garlic is fragrant and add spinach; sauté until slightly wilted; season with salt and pepper. Serve spinach with salmon fillet on top; squeeze fresh lemon on fish just before serving.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Seafood Soothes Your Conscience While Contributing to Heart and Brain Health

Hy-Vee’s new Responsible Choice seafood initiative is taking away some of the worry for people who want the health benefits of seafood, but don’t want to contribute to over-fishing and other practices that threaten the supply of seafood and damage the environment.

Dieticians recommended that people eat two to three servings – each in the 3- to 4-ounce range – of fish per week. We know there are health benefits, such as lowering the risk for strokes or heart attacks and increasing brain health, but research also suggests that eating more fish lowers the risk for certain kinds of cancer.

Salmon Filets with Cutting BoardThe top reason for that? Fish are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids.

Of the three essential Omega-3s – Eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – only EPA and DHA are found exclusively in seafood and marine algae.

ALA is also found in plants, such as flax, walnuts, chia and pumpkin seeds, and although it’s true that ALA can be converted by the body to EPA and DHA, the conversion rate is very low. Only a fraction of a percent is actually converted to EPA and DHA.

If you’re looking to improve your heart and brain health, salmon and tuna are great sources for Omega-3 acids, but so are trout, mackerel and herring. On the other hand, seafood species like shrimp, crab, lobster and clams have very little Omega-3 content.

That’s not to say they’re not healthy. They’re still extremely nutritious. Shrimp, for example, is a great source of protein.

Many times when people are trying to lose weight, they think the only answer is to cut back on what they eat. That can backfire, because it leaves them feeling hungry. Eating more protein can keep them feeling full and satisfied. That’s also helpful in maintaining blood sugars. When you increase your protein intake, you don’t have those highs and lows that can lead to hunger and lack of concentration.

If you want to lose weight, seafood is a great high-protein, low-calorie center-plate replacement that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. When adding more seafood to your diet as part of a weight-loss plan, look for nutrient dense species.

The calories you’re getting will be very well spent, because you’ll get a lot of nutrients with them – protein, beneficial fats and other nutrients. Clams for example, have 30 percent of your daily need for iron, as well calcium and other vitamins.

All seafood is beneficial. The only possible downside is mercury content – especially in shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. Visit Hy-Vee’s seafood counter for more information about seafood species that are both low in mercury and Responsible Choices.

Besides looking at how the fish was caught and the effect on the ocean’s environment, Hy-Vee’s suppliers also consider seafood’s safety for consumption.