The Sustainable Seafood dinner hosted by the Charleston Harbor Fish House was a spectacular evening of food and fun, Executive Chef Charles Arena prepared a menu for the evening that surpassed expectations of a great meal.
The first course was a refreshing few bites of yellowfin tuna, one of the best choices of sustainable tuna. This is a pelagic species that does feel some fishing pressure, but with the strict management governing US fishermen, is not an overfished species. This dish, paired perfectly with a prosecco, was a delight to open the evening.
The second course was a brilliant follow up of lobster salad served on an éclair with a delicious hollandaise sauce and paired with a Chardonnay Reserve from Rodney Strong Vineyards. The lobster was caught in the Maine fishery, which was certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council last year. Lobsters are trap-caught with little bycatch or destruction of habitat. The main concern with American lobster fisheries is the potential for large whale entanglement, and new gear technologies are currently in testing to reduce this risk.
Course three continued Chef Arena’s culinary journey with a cassoulet featuring sustainably harvested shellfish: local shrimp, scallops, Prince Edward Island mussels, and local clams. Resting in a savory broth, a garlic sausage accompanied the shellfish and excited the taste buds with every bite! Local shrimp are one of the most sustainable choices you can make. National mandates require all shrimpers to incorporate turtle excluder devices in their trawl nets, and South Carolina strictly enforces this regulation. Local clams are abundant and feed on natural plankton in the ocean, as do PEI mussels. Natural filtration eliminates the need to extract extra marine resources to feed growing shellfish. The scallop population in the New England fishery is very healthy and harvested at a sustainable level, making them a great choice when dining out or at home. After a harvest, a bed is left fallow to allow the next generation of scallops to grow. A Rodney Strong Vineyards Pinot Noir provided a perfect balance to the cassoulet.
Tilefish, a local, abundant species whose catch has minimal disturbance to the marine ecosystem around it, was the star of the fourth course, and an easy sustainable choice. Tilefish are a deeper dwelling species and are caught with long lines. Because of the depth, there is minimal bycatch, most of which can be used and does not go to waste). Tilefish is a meaty, white, flaky fish with a mild flavor. Chef Arena’s preparation included cauliflower, brussels sprouts and smoked mushrooms. The delicious tilefish was delicately paired with a Rodney Strong Reserve Pinot Noir.
With barely enough room left, Chef Arena whipped up a unique salty sweet dessert to perfectly end the meal: squid ink ice cream! The rich, sweet briny flavor of the ice cream was expertly paired with a Rodney Strong Reserve Zinfandel. Squid are short lived and reproduce quickly, making them very resistant to fishing pressures.