Posts Tagged ‘sustainable seafood’

American Trail Exhibit Opens at National Zoo

Friday, August 31st, 2012

The newest exhibit at our National Zoo opens to the public at noon tomorrow, Saturday, September 1. After lengthy renovations, the American Trail, home to North American river otters, beavers, the bald eagle, wolves and the beloved seal and sea lions, reopens with additional viewing areas, environmentally-friendly site design and water conservation features.

sea lion national zoo

Of course, my interests in the new exhibit tend to the fishy side… specifically, the new Seal Rock Cafe and its sustainable seafood options. I visited this week for a preview and chatted with chef Tom Ramsey. With new food provider Sodexo, the Zoo has significantly upgraded its food offerings this summer. The American Trail’s cafe offers local and certified sustainable seafood, including a lobster roll, shrimp roll, or Hawaiian poke salad. The fish in the poke salad will change according to what’s available. (And tofu can be substituted in any dish.) It’s fresh, tasty and all served in stylish bamboo dishes.

seal rock cafe sustainable seafood

The exhibit leads you down a quiet, shady canyon towards the seal and sea lion pools. The new viewing area gives you above and below water viewing opportunities. Lastly, the new exhibit features a tide pool splash pad — so the kids can splash around while you’re chowing down on that lobster roll. Fun!

splash pad tide pool

Lemon Artichoke Risotto with Shrimp

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Facing an empty fridge upon our return home from vacation, I was in need of groceries and inspiration this past weekend. I happened to catch a mention on Twitter of food52‘s risotto party and was inspired to make a spring risotto. I knew I wanted to include lemon and mint, and had been intrigued by a raw artichoke and parmesan salad I’d read about in the April issue of Body + Soul. And I decided to add citrusy broiled shrimp, as in the food52 finalist’s recipe. There are few things more soothing than the fresh scent of mint and lemon zest, and this creamy risotto is a perfect supper to usher in spring.

Recipe: Lemon Artichoke Risotto with Shrimp


for the risotto

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 teaspoon reserved for shrimp)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (1 tablespoon zest reserved for shrimp)
  • 2 cups organic Arborio rice
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fruity white wine
  • 1 6-ounce jar water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

for the shrimp

  • 1 pound wild U.S. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • reserved garlic and lemon zest from above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper


Gently toss the shrimp with chopped garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, and a generous amount of sea salt and pepper. Let marinate at room temperature while preparing the risotto.

Bring seafood stock and water to simmer in a stock pot.

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium low heat and cook garlic several minutes, until translucent. Increase heat to medium and add rice, stirring to coat with oil, and cook 4-5 minutes. Rice will turn translucent and begin to appear lightly toasted. Add lemon zest and juice. Pour in wine and cook 1 minute.

Begin ladling the stock, two ladles full at a time, into the risotto. Stir frequently after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed, then add the next batch. The process of adding, stirring and absorbing liquid will take about 20-25 minutes. The rice will release its starch, resulting in a creamy white sauce. Taste periodically until the rice is al dente — still firm but no longer crunchy in the middle. When the desired texture is reached, gently fold in artichoke hearts, mint and parmesan cheese and remove from heat.

Under a broiler, cook shrimp about 2 minutes on each side, until pink and opaque. Serve atop risotto, and garnish with additional fresh mint and/or shaved parmesan. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

Note: You can replace the seafood stock with vegetable and omit the shrimp to serve the risotto alone for a vegetarian or Meatless Monday-friendly supper.

Sustainable Fish Soundbites

Friday, June 12th, 2009

New here? Please pull up a chair (okay, odds are you’re already sitting) and let me point you towards some kid-friendly recipes, farm visits or local farmers market reports. If you like what you see, you may be interested in subscribing to the feed or signing up for free e-mail updates. And please leave a note to say hello!

There’s been a lot of press lately about top sushi Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s refusal to stop serving critically-endangered bluefin tuna in his celebrity-frequented, highly-lauded Nobu restaurants. Greenpeace and those barton seaver food and wine national harborsame celebrities have recently launched a boycott in hopes of forcing a menu change.

Meanwhile, here in the District, sustainable seafood ambassador Barton Seaver has just opened Blue Ridge, where he describes his mission as, “making broccoli sexy so you’ll have less room for the shrimp on your plate.” He’s not out to tell you what not to eat, he says, just as long as you’re not eating more than 4-5 ounces of a sustainably-harvested seafood species at a time.

At last weekend’s Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor, where Seaver gave a cooking demo, I was amused to see the Alaska seafood industry handing out sustainable seafood guides that just happened to be the same size and format as the Seafood Watch guides by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The difference? The industry-produced brochures assert that environmental contaminants like PCBs that are highly-publicized are not actually a problem in the US. (Really? Then what’s with this new warning about dangerous PCB levels in Atlantic rockfish, eh?) Alaskan seafood is generally one of the more sustainable options, as event speaker Dan Shapley of The Daily Green poinwild natural sustainable fishted out, so it’s unclear why they felt the need to spread misinformation.

Word Oceans Day was earlier this week, but you can still take a moment to sign a message to your legislators asking them to ban mercury-producing chlorine manufacturing processes; yes, the same mercury that gets into our soil, water, and fish…

Making smart seafood choices is complicated enough without having to try to discern which guides are scientific and which are just clever marketing. Here’s a look back at a “Sustainable Seafood 101” post I wrote earlier this year, part of the FoodieTot’s Sustainable Family Supper series. (And my contribution to this week’s Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.)

Shellfish on Friday

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Now that Lent is here, I have even more incentive to try new seafood recipes to incorporate more sustainable seafood into our diet. This was actually our Shrove Tuesday pancake meal, but we will definitely be making it again. Shellfish is loaded with nutrients (scallops with vitamin B12) and while my son isn’t yet slurping raw oysters, he has no problem eating shrimp or fried clam strips. This was the first time I tried giving him scallops, and he was skeptical but ate several bites. Scallops overcook very quickly, so don’t make the mistake I did of cooking the seafood first — cook the crepes and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the etouffee and scallops.

Recipe: Shrimp & Scallop Crepes Etouffee



  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 3/4 c buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 unbleached flour
  • 1/4 t salt


  • 1/2 pound jumbo wild-caught US shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 large diver-caught scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Tabasco (optional)


Crepes: Whisk together crepe ingredients until combined. Cook on a large cast iron skillet or crepe pan, and transfer to cookie sheet in warm over to keep warm.

Etouffee: Melt butter in skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and red pepper and cook until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes, until shrimp begins to turn pink. Dissolve tapioca starch and water and add to pan. Stir, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Scallops: Warm olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan and cook 2 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Flip scallops and add butter to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes more, until just cooked through. (Scallops should be opaque and just firm to the touch.)

Fill crepes with a spoonful of shrimp etouffee, fold and serve with scallops on the side. Add a few dashes of Tabasco if you like a little heat. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

For more scallop inspiration, check out this yummy Lemon-Thyme Scallop recipe from one of my favorite new foodie kids’ blogs, Chow Mama.

Note: Shellfish is not recommended for children before one year of age, and possibly longer if there is a family history of allergies. Our pediatrician advised us to wait until 18 months, but check with your own doctor if you have not yet introduced shellfish.