Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My dirty secret

This picture is borrowed, without any particular permission, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program (

I meant to cook tonight. I even had the food picked out--double-wide whole wheat vegan fettuccine with broccoli, lightly coated in a pasta water/butter/Parmesan sauce with some parsley mixed in. The pasta came from a hippie food group meeting last night. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

Around dinner time I found myself on the East Side. It was a Tuesday. That meant one thing. Extra fresh sushi at Pacific East, my favorite sushi place in town. I'm not going to debate the merits of Cleveland sushi shops, except to say that Sushi Rock is ridiculously overrated, and Kimo's Sushi is enjoyable (Kimo's also makes the best, and only, Hawaiian plate meals in the area on Fridays and Saturdays.). That being said, on a Tuesday or Wednesday I believe that Pacific East produces sushi that could stand up to the best places on either U.S. coast and anywhere between. I'd be skeptical at a claim like that too, but the stuff is good. Visitors agree.

Tonight dinner was one piece each of Spanish Mackerel (barely seared with a ginger scallion garnish), Snapper (Tai), Spicy Octopus (a battleship of diced octopus and a sriracha), Baby Yellowtail, Tamago, a Christmas Roll (tuna and avocado) and a Sapporo. And, the dirty secret, one wonderful piece of Toro. All of it was great. The Sapporo, lovingly brewed in Canada, a Christmas Roll, standard and cost effective, Tamago, sweet and just about perfect, Baby Yellowtail, which is leaps beyond the standard Hamachi, Spicy Octopus, spicy, but not so much that a quick piece of ginger doesn't get you ready to enjoy the next piece (although the taste does linger a bit), Snapper, always super clean, and Spanish Mackerel, a treat. Still, the meltingly sweet and savory Toro, tuna belly, was the highlight of the meal.

The best Toro allegedly comes from Bluefin Tuna, the type I enjoyed this evening. A quick search of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's website reveals that Bluefin Tunas are severly overfished and the methods used to catch them result in significant bycatch and harm to sea turtles (And I love sea turtles, particularly Loggerheads. If you're in the area and the season is right, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach Florida provides evening turtle walks to watch the Loggerhead's lay their eggs. The tours are offered in other places as well. It's really something to see, just bring bug spray.) So, clearly eating the tasty Bluefin is not a good thing. But it's so good.

I have no excuse. Usually I'm good about these things--eggs from happy chickens, produce from considerate and often local growers, and generally meat from well treated animals. Right or wrong, I never go near farmed salmon. So why this exception to my usual eating ethics that give me a smug sense of self satisfaction? Even after a semi-religious turtle walk? It's a weakness. I guess it could be worse.

Note, there may be some other bad fish in there, but the Bluefin is representative of the problem. Plus, to me it's the most blatant and easily understood problem fish I ate tonight. Please forgive me.

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