Annabel Langbein's guilt-free seafood (+ recipes)
My grandfather, Put, was a mad-keen fisherman. In summer we would take the world's worst road to Tennyson Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds, where his launch, the Shangri La, was moored.
We would load our supplies on board and head to D'Urville Island at the outer west of the Sounds to fish the groper holes there for a few days. I remember my grandfather coming up from the galley with big platters of the most delicious hot crispy battered cod he had whipped up.
"So fresh its next of kin haven't been notified," he would say.
Back in Wellington, where we lived, there was always a weather watch for fishing. When the wind swung around to blow offshore, my uncle Tony would call and we would all head off to the beach to help put his Kon-tiki raft out. I remember he used a barley sugar to hold the line of hooks on the raft. By the time the sweet had melted in the salt water the contraption would be way out in the deep briny, and the line would drop down with all its baited hooks.
We would sit on the beach and have a bit of a picnic, waiting for a few hours before winding the whole thing in again. It was always such a thrill seeing what came back in, be it snapper, tarakihi or gurnard - and even the odd shark.
These days many of our favourite fish species are under real pressure, so to ensure our kids and their kids will still be able to enjoy the pleasures of fishing we need to think about the way we fish and the types of fish we eat.
All over the globe, organisations are working to provide education and support around sustainable fishing practices, as well useful information to help consumers to make good choices.
Here in New Zealand, Forest & Bird has recently updated its Best Fish Guide using the best available science, independently reviewed by expert marine scientists. It uses a traffic-light system (red means stop, amber means proceed with caution and green means you're good to go) to rank more than 85 commercial species of fish and seafood according to which are "good choice" options and which to avoid.
Cockles and mussels (both rated green in the Best Fish Guide) are affordable and sustainable seafood options. If you are gathering your own shellfish be sure to source it from areas with no risk of pollution as shellfish are filter feeders and can easily acquire toxins. Get the recipe
Blue cod (amber rating on the Best Fish Guide) has a nice soft flake and would be great in these sliders. You could also use salmon (green or amber, depending on where it is farmed). Be sure to use a good-quality mayonnaise or make your own - it's super quick and much more economical. Get the recipe
The gutsy flavours of smoked paprika and cumin go well with salmon, fresh tuna (skipjack and albacore both get the green light from Forest & Bird) or game fish such as trevally or kahawai (amber rating). If using tuna or game fish, sear the kebabs very quickly so the fish stays really rare - that way it will be buttery and tender inside. Get the recipe
For more great Annabel Langbein recipes see her new winter annual Annabel Langbein A Free Range Life: Share the Love (Annabel Langbein Media, $24.95) or visit annabel-langbein.com