Tilapia: Bad Fish Gone Good
This blog post could also be titled, “Restaurant Week Revisited,” because that’s how I got the idea. A little over a week ago I ventured down to Hook in Georgetown with a certain special someone after my sister recommended it: “The food is great, but the service sucks.” We were actually impressed by both—prompt service and amazing food!
I got the grilled mahi-mahi served over forbidden rice (tempting, right?) with a mango confit and garnished with watercress. Gourmet, a bit pricey, but what the hell, it was restaurant week. She had the Tilapia fish tacos, which were savory and stuffed with purple cabbage and topped with a spicy sauce. That’s where things get interesting.
People farm tilapia worldwide (any seniors remember The Ponds of Kalambayi?) but most tilapia in the US comes frozen from China or Taiwan. The farmers poorly manage these ponds and they are at high risk of polluting the environment. I come from Alaska where every other car has a bumper sticker that reads: “Friends don’t let friends eat farmed fish,” so it should come as no surprise that I choose my seafood very carefully. Tilapia is almost always out of the question.
Now, you might be asking why I would let anyone I was dining with eat even a bite of this eco-unfriendly monstrosity, but don’t worry, I didn’t. See, this wasn’t just any seafood restaurant. Hook’s hook, if you will, is sustainability. The menu changes daily based on what fish is available. All the tilapia comes from Central America where farms are better managed, the fish isn’t frozen, and the distance from pond to plate isn’t so terrible. It’s still not as good as fresh tilapia (still farmed) from right here in the US, but it’s a ok alternative. Check out Hook’s website for more info about the restaurant and menus.
Yes, good seafood is hard to come-by on the east coast. Trying to navigate your way through the sea of PCB, DDT and mercury laden fish, while trying not to reduce your carbon footprint can leave you floundering about. Don’t. There are a lot of great resources to help you make informed choices and find good food. Remember, just keep swimming.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium. They publish “Seafood Watch” keeping an eye on the worlds oceans. Check out their recommendations and use the seafood search database which makes it really easy to find information on just about any type of fish.
- DC’s Fish Market located at the waterfront on Maine Ave downtown. There are several stands like Captain White’s and Jessie Taylor offering fresh fish. Captain White’s offers hot food and there are a few restaurants in the area as well. I actually stumbled upon this place when I was lost trying to get home last year. My roommate and I had a great time looking around. Don’t be afraid to ask where things come from, just expect a lot of competition for your business.
- Whole Foods now labels all of their seafood using the same guidelines created by Monterey Bay Aquarium. They also label the origin of the fish.
Posted in AU Gourmet