Eat Fish, Save Planet

You want to eat fish. It’s delicious, versatile, good for you, and not-at-all cute. Fish scores a 10 out of 10 on the “animals to eat” scale. But it’s not all shiny scales and clear eyes. It turns out there can be some downsides to fish consumption. Some fish shouldn’t be eaten due to contaminents, sustainability and harvesting practices. Some fish should be eaten, but only if it’s caught from the wild. And some seafood is actually preferable if it’s farm-raised.

It can all be very confusing and discouraging when what you want to do the right thing, but what you really want is a platter of fish tacos and a margarita.

Thankfully, Good Fish cookbook author (and damn good blogger) Becky Selengut has set the record straight on how to enjoy fantastic seafood – and I do mean enjoy; we’re talking top-notch recipes here – without destroying the ocean to feed your need.

I will admit to being a bit predisposed to Becky. Years ago, I had the good fortune to work with her at a fancy-pants restaurant when I was just starting off in the culinary world. I was fresh out of culinary school and knew very little, and she knew an intimidatingly huge amount but was always very generous about sharing knowledge and was never once an ass about how green I was.

So, thanks to a brief stint under the same employer and the wonder of Facebook, I was invited to attend the cookbook release party for Good Fish. After eight months of cultivating my “new mom chic” look of sports bras, baggy t-shirts and grubby gardening clothes, it was refreshing to get out of the house in the party duds to celebrate two things I feel strongly about: sustainability in our food choices and damn good recipes.

I bought my cookbook direct from the author (that’s such a treat!) and had it signed. To prove she was still totally, completely, mostly sober, Becky neatly printed,”Cuk Awesome Fish!” on the inside cover. Wise words.

Homebrew husband and I drank a cocktail and enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded by adults in an adult environment. Sadly, the babe didn’t play nice and in the crowded urban atmosphere had a wee little “I need a boob” meltdown that limited our mingling time.

I wish I could feel bad about leaving so quickly, but truthfully heading homeward just bought me more time with my new favorite cookbook. Oh, Good Fish, we will be spending many evenings together, I foresee.

If you want the Readers Digest Version, here it is: buy this book. I’m a bit jaded on the cookbook front, owning in the neighborhood of 200 of them, but I’m thrilled to have added this one to my collection.

Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast

Here’s why:

Solid research and passionate explanations about why your seafood purchases matter on a global scale, presented in a way that is never preachy or pedantic.

Rock solid seafood cooking fundamentals – the tools, the keys to freshness, the terminology of ordering. It’s all in here. Read this book a few times and you’ll know more about fish than the guy behind the fish counter at your local supermarket. And that’s good, because then you’ll be forced to seek out a proper fishmonger.

Recipes that are inventive and creative and yet comfortable. You will read the recipe index and start drooling. Mussels with Guinness Cream, Oregon Pink Shrimp Salad with Mint, Roasted Salmon with Morels and Pinot Noir Sauce, Scallops with Carrot Cream and Marjoram, and on, and on. Unlike some cookbooks, you will not stop at drool, you will go on to cook. The straightforward and well-described recipes beg to be made. If, like me, you also fancy yourself a chef, you will think. “Why didn’t I think of that combination of flavors? And how quickly can I make that for my lunch?”

Intuitive design and organization makes Good Fish easy to use. The cookbook is divided into sections: Shellfish, Finfish, and Littlefish & Eggs (aka Sardines, Squid and Caviar). Within each section recipes are grouped by primary seafood, like Shrimp or Halibut or Rainbow Trout. Each primary seafood gets five recipes to its name, resulting in a diverse collection of recipes that are easy to find and browse through.

I love cookbooks that include beverage pairings with the recipes. I think it stems from my days as a Personal Chef, when I offered beverage recommendations to my clients for each meal I cooked for them. Cookbooks that did the work for me made my life so much easier. Becky’s wife is a Sommelier, so it’s no surprise that the Good Fish recipes each come with a thoughtfully prepared beverage selection.

Becky did a hell of a job on this cookbook. If you love fish, and you want fish to be around for years and years so you can continue to enjoy it, this is the cookbook for you.

There’s even a killer recipe for fish tacos.

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for my wild-eyed enthusiastic gushing about this book. I paid full price for my copy and did so happily. It just really is that good. 


  1. says

    yum-o! i'll be getting this as soon as i can find it used, at the library or when it comes out in paperback … OR, when someone gives it to me as a gift. i was starting to think that the big fishies were just off the list and was resigned to eating sardines and the like. so, you say it's okay to buy a whole salmon this season? please say yes.

  2. says

    Ruth – from "Good Fish," Pg 98:
    "As of this writing, Monterey Bay Aquarium 's Seafood Watch lists all species of Alaska salmon as a "Best Choice." All species of Alaska salmon are certified as sustainable fisheries according to the Marine Stewardship Council. Salmon from Washington are listed as a "Good Choice" by Seafood Watch, which means there ae some concerns with the fishery, but it is a good second choice if you can't locate the best.

    "The health of Alaska salmon stocks is also a testament to good management practices. In the 1950s the Alaskan salmon fisheries collapsed from overfishing. In 1959 Alaska became a state and included guidelines in its constitution for sustainable management of all its natural resources."

    So, basically – Go! Wild Alaska fish, Go!

  3. says

    I agree Wild Alaska salmon is great. We live in Alaska so for us it is a local food. As residents we can harvest enough to last us all year. I use the green list for seafood but mostly just eat salmon.

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