Culinary Trends and Fish
Various culinary trends predictions for 2013 have stated that non-traditional types of fish will make their way onto more and more menus throughout the year. Branzino, Arctic Char, and Barramundi are a few types that are gaining widespread popularity. Their abundance makes them top candidates for fish dishes, by keeping their prices relatively low (though pricing depends on many other factors as well). Their versatile preparation methods and flavoring options make them ideal for vegetarian entrées (for those vegetarians who eat fish) or lighter entrée options.
Why is sustainable fish such a big deal? With global warming, the temperatures of bodies of water are rising, becoming less ideal for many types of fish, and causing their numbers to decrease. Fish farming allows the industry to artificially create the optimal conditions for fish to grow, regulating the prices and availability of those fish in the market. Some consumers are hesitant to purchase such fish, due to the use of antibiotics to keep the fish healthy. However, suppliers that raise fish by fish farming, specifically for the purpose of being consumed, are providing sustainable fish, in contrast to fishing from the dwindling numbers in natural bodies of water. Branzino, Arctic Char, and Barramundi are considered sustainable fish. In addition to being top candidates for main ingredients in a vegetarian or non-meat dish, they can be prepared in various ways, incorporating culinary trends related to cooking methods, healthy eating, and sustainable food.
Branzino, also known as European sea bass, is the second most farmed fish after salmon. Its firm, white meat has a delicate flavor. Its small size makes it great for pan-frying, baking, grilling, and steaming, whole or in filets. In the past years it has become a staple of casual and fine dining restaurant menus. In comparison to possible alternatives such as red snapper and black sea bass, Branzino has more steady availability and pricing due to it being farm-raised.
Arctic char is often compared to trout and salmon. Its flesh ranges from pink to red, and its fat content is similar to sockeye salmon. Its size lends itself to preparation as filets and steaks. The heart-healthy oils in the fish and its high rating as sustainable food combine predominant culinary trends.
Like the first two types of fish described, Barramundi is also a very sustainable food. This white fish has a mild flavor and fat levels that fluctuate from fish to fish. Its size, like Arctic Char, makes it best suitable for preparing as filets, though smaller ones are available as well, and delicious baked whole.
How to Cook Fish
Branzino, Arctic Char, and Barramundi can be cooked in many ways. The obvious options include baking, pan-frying, and grilling. These fish can also be used to prepare fish carpaccio, a twist on the classic beef filet dish, in which the vinegar content will slightly cure the fish. They be cooked in a bamboo steamer, wrapped in exotic leaves, as well. Surprisingly impressive results can be achieved when microwaving filets without skin, as the even cooking of the ingredients allow the fish to be evenly cooked through to a moist doneness. The dish options for incorporating Branzino, Arctic Char, and Barramundi are vast and allow a lot of freedom for creativity and experimentation. With the stable prices and availability of these sustainable fish, and the rising culinary trends of healthy eating and non-traditional fish on menus, they are a great ingredient to add to the supply list.