Eat Like a Fish

Learning to eat what the ocean provides can help sustain wild fish species.

Where were the greens and vegetables in your lunchtime salad grown? If you’re among the three-quarters of Americans who, according to a 2018 Gallup poll, strive to eat locally grown foods, you may have purchased them from a farmers market or a community-supported agriculture program. Eating locally is widely recognized as healthier, fresher, good for local economies, and good for the environment. But what about the seafood you’re grilling for dinner?

When it comes to fish, sustainable, local eating is equally important, but hasn’t been as widely embraced. Over a hundred edible seafood species thrive off New England’s ocean shores. But many of the most plentiful species are hard to find in local markets and largely unknown to consumers.

URI is a partner with Eating with the Ecosystem, a program working to change the demand for and availability of local, plentiful fish species. They promote a place-based approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood through healthy habitats, flourishing food webs, and short, adaptive supply chains. In other words, they want people to eat like a fish, which means eating what the ocean provides—adopting a supply-based, rather than a demand-based, way of eating.

—Barbara Caron


Eating with the Ecosystem’s new cookbook, Simmering the Sea: Diversifying Cookery to Sustain Our Fisheries, encourages readers to expand their seafood horizons.

Sarah Schumann ’04 is a commercial fisher, an advocate for healthy marine ecosystems, a freelance educator and writer, and a co-author of Simmering the Sea. She shared this recipe for scup crudo—a refreshing, no-cook recipe that’s perfect for summer.

SCUP CRUDO

2 scup, filleted and skin removed

¼ cup salt

Rinse under cold running water and pat dry. Sprinkle salt on both sides. Let rest in refrigerator for 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse in a bowl of ice water. Pat dry. Thinly slice each fillet on a bias (45º angle).

Vinaigrette

¼ English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Neatly line plate with cucumber slices. Place sliced fish fillets on top. Mix radishes, pepper, spring onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Drizzle over fish. Sprinkle with salt. Serves 4.


Learn more about Eating with the Ecosystem and order your copy of Simmering the Sea at eatingwiththeecosystem.org.

HOW TO EXPAND YOUR LOCAL SEAFOOD HORIZONS

Seek out local species you haven’t tried before. Buy, cook, and use the whole fish. If you don’t see the local fish variety you’re looking for, ask your grocer or fishmonger. If you don’t ask, they won’t know you’re looking for it. Order the fish you’re looking for in advance. Special orders let vendors know there’s interest in lesser-known varieties of fish. When you’re trying new varieties of seafood, invite friends and family to join you.

Simmering the Sea is a collaboration of Eating with the Ecosystem, Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts, and the University of Rhode Island.