(on the conscience)
山珍海味 – the highlight of every Chinese New Year meal. It literally means rare, exotic foods from the mountains and the oceans. We, Chinese, eat every thing. And the more exotic and rare a food is, the more value we place on eating it. Bear paws, shark’s fin, bird’s nest, sea cucumbers… you name it.
Lo and behold – the laws of demand and supply in Chinese culture dictates that the lower the supply, the higher shall be the demand. I wonder how much of it results from reading too many KungFu novels and buying into the mythical healing powers of the thousand year-old LingZhis restoring youth and resuscitating the dead.
Anyway, we’ve heard much controversy over the hunting of sharks for their fins as delicacies. Everyone loves the shark now. But what about the rest of the marine species? Salmon belly sashimi (and their fins taste so yummy, too), herb-baked lobsters, succulent live oysters… Shouldn’t we spare a thought for their survival as well?
I’ve previously written a post about the existential crisis faced by marine species and have been really lucky to participate in WWF’s sustainable seafood production series. They’ve featured multiple chefs preparing sustainable seafood dishes and I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Chef Lucas’ (Grand Hyatt) grilled atlantic salmon dish – which was delicious.
Catch my guest appearance alongside Wah!Banana cast here:
So what exactly is sustainable seafood? It has to be caught or farmed with consideration of:
- long-term vitality of the species
- well-being of the oceans
- livelihoods of the fishery communities that depend on them
How can we be sure that the above conditions are met? Especially since we all know, through expert knowledge in quantum physics, that everything ultimately affects everything else. Does this preach the sermon that every man should turn herbivorous? (Even then, the earth would likely be impacted in a strange, unexpected way.)
I love seafood and I have grown up slurping stews of collagen-rich sea cucumbers and thick, succulent scallops. I’ve had my share of shark’s fin and concluded that, really, the yummy part lies in the thick soup with the right amounts of vinegar added to it.
Singaporeans love seafood and we consume 120,000 tons of seafood a year! If those were whales, we’d have consumed 1,000 blue whales a year. WWF Singapore has therefore created a website to educate the public about sustainable seafood.
Here’s how you can tell if a particular seafood is sustainable:
- From a supermarket – look out for the ASC or MSC certification label. Check out the sustainable seafood finder from MSC.
- From a wet market – WWF Singapore has launched a Sustainable Seafood Guide. It lists the various seafood types and tells you, generally, if a particular type of fish or prawn you purchase is likely sourced sustainably.
I love cod fish, salmon, scallops and sea cucumber and I was pleased to find that they were on the Recommended list.
On the other hand, I probably have to stay away from my favourite Teochew-steamed silver pomfret dish. Shark’s fin, of course, is a no-no. It’s probably why I haven’t spotted a shark in all my dive trips – lifetime after lifetime of feasting on shark’s fin as a Chinese.
Which type of seafood is your absolute kryptonite?
Are you it’s kryptonite?